Dad, What Is A Renegade?

Dad, what is a renegade?
While driving my son to school, the song Renegades by X Ambassadors begins to play on the radio.  I tap my fingers to the beat while my son begins to sing along.  

The difference between me and my father is that my father listened carefully to the lyrics, so most music selections were at his discretion. If the content was inappropriate or suggestive, it wasn’t played in the car.  Needless to say, a lot of our travel time was silent.  

Now, I’m the cool dad; letting my kids choose the station.  And most times they decide on their own to select positive, upbeat, or otherwise “safe”songs.  When the vocalists sings a verse that my kids KNOW they could never safely repeat, they are quick to change the station.  

I, on the other hand, am often lost in the moment.  Thinking about the challenges ahead or playing through my head a scenario that I could have handled differently from one of yesterday’s meetings. I tap my fingers to the beat instead.  The lyrics beam past my ears.  

“Long live the pioneers

Rebels and mutineers

Go forth and have no fear

Come close the end is near”

At best I’ll catch the rhyme, but now my feet alternate now with the rhythm.  

“It’s our time to make a move

It’s our time to make amends

It’s our time to break the rules

Let’s begin”

My son pauses and asks, “Dad, what’s a renegade?”

“Huh?  What’s that, son?” I replied.  I looked around, thinking that my son was referring to that new mini-jeep.  

He said, “…the song!  What’s a renegade?”

“And I say hey, hey hey hey

Living like we’re renegades

Hey hey hey

Hey hey hey

Leaving like we’re renegades

Renegades, renegades”

Zoning back to the real world, I formulate the semblance of a response.  “A renegade is…”

Why has my son asked me this?  Was it simply about the song, or was it about more than that?

“…it’s a rebel,” I say, “yeah, a rebel who usually works with a small group of others; to undermine the status quo…” 

“Like you, Dad?”  

I am glad that we’d just slowed to the red traffic light.  “Well, kinda son.  I mean, I don’t always go along with the others, but I know what’s right. I try to do the right thing, even though it gets… complicated.”

“I know, dad.  You don’t always think the rules are right.” 

“Right!  I mean…no!”

What have I been teaching him?  Is he really watching that closely?  Focus. Set a good example.  Offer an analogy…

“Ummm…ok.  It’s like this:  you have to wear a uniform to school, right?”

Eager for me to explain,  “Yeah…” he says.  

“Well, a renegade might refuse.  A renegade might discretely gather a few trusted friends to demonstrate their position against uniforms.”

“The principal might not like that,” my son mumbles.  

“Well, the principal has a job to do too, ” I remind him.  “He has rules to follow, and it’s important that the students have a routine they can follow and a structure to help them develop…”

I lost him. 

“Hey hey hey

Leaving like we’re renegades
Renegades, renegades”

“So you suppose that if I wore the wrong color uniform, and got a bunch of my friends to do the same, we’d be renegades?”  

“You want to have a cause,” I warned.  “Otherwise you’re wasting your time–and everyone else’s.  What’s your purpose in breaking the rule?”   


“I guess I’ll just follow the rules then.”

Crisis averted…I think.  Or is this a conversation that we will revisit (possibly in the principal’s office)?

As we pull up to the school entrance, Dylan hops out of the car, grabs his backpack from the trunk, and hums the song as we walk in together.  We go inside.  He turns to me for our routine departing hug.  I kiss his forehead and whisper, “let’s make good decisions today.”

“Ok, dad.  Love you”

Hey hey hey

Leaving like we’re renegades

Renegades, renegades

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