The four of us were snugged in the minivan on a trip home to visit family in Wisconsin. The background sounds that accompanied the quintessential traveling question “Are we there yet?”, requests for snacks, and screams that result from long-arm reaches to pull sister’s arm, were the words of Johnny Cash: “And daddy won’t you take me back to Muhlenberg County. Down by the green river where paradise lay.”
And then, something beautiful, something provoked by the Man in Black himself, came from a pink clad toe head in the backseat “I dove this song”. As peaceful of a statement as it appears to be in written form, coming from the mouth of Haze, a two year old, that ‘dove’ is her way of saying love. “You do?” flies out of my mouth as quick as the turn of my head to stay within the lines and witness the face of our two year old daughter recalling a song and applying a value to it. I turned the dial up and smiled.
[pullquote type=”2″ align=”right”]“From the Beatles to the Beastie Boys, back around to Bob Dylan and Modest Mouse; I have been influenced and moved by art that emanates in waves from individuals who choose to express their view of the world through instruments, words, and noise.”[/pullquote]Our trip had family moments punctuated by music, a fifth person rolling down the freeway with us as we battle small bladders and sore bottoms. It was a reassuring sound while we slept in unfamiliar beds, and an excuse for freak-out dance parties after half day drives.
Music is an open invitation to sing, create songs, air guitar, pound on objects. It also makes parental requests more palatable, turning a demand, “Please shut the door” into a Julie Andrews request. Music has the power to transform any situation; it is not just something we listen to, it’s a “thing” that works in concert with periods in our lives, and helps us recall moments that would otherwise be left up to our sense of smell to retrieve. Although I’m not sure I want to remember the smells of the Odyssey after 3,000 miles with Haze and Mae. I, of course, smell like roses after foregoing a shower for more sleep.
I love music. It’s as simple as that. I have been listening to, discovering, and applying sounds and lyrics to my life since I can remember. I was fortunate to have family that shared their individual, mostly eclectic, musical tastes with me. From the Beatles to the Beastie Boys, back around to Bob Dylan and Modest Mouse; I have been influenced and moved by art that emanates in waves from individuals who choose to express their view of the world through instruments, words, and noise.
Obviously, it is my duty to share this passion with our girls so that they have a healthy understanding of the people, and bands, who may impact their lives in a way that helps relax their bodies, challenge their minds, sustain memories, and better understand the world through another person’s perspective.
So, when I hear random thoughts turned into song, children’s versions of classics while weaving through traffic, or organ keys pounded on top level at 7:00 in the morning, I lift a happy brow, and can’t help but wonder where their relationship with music will take them. I can only expect that they will find the same comforts and joys that I have, and perhaps one day they will listen to “Paradise” by Johnny Cash, and be flooded with memories of summer days spent swimming with cousins and July evenings filled with smores, sun-chill cuddles, and before bed snacks with their grandparents.
What are some of your favorite musical memories with your kids? What songs trigger your childhood memories?
Andrew Meyer is a Special Education teacher from Madison, Wisconsin, whose wife’s job relocation changed their family roles and physical location. He's now a stay-at-home dad in Madison, Alabama, to two awesomely creative, sometimes challenging, and mostly sweet five and two-year-old girls who fill his days, nights, and in-between spaces. When with or without them, he writes, works-out, wonders, wishes he wouldn’t worry, wrestles with his wife’s commitment to her job, and listens to music. You can also find him at www.papasense.wordpress.com, on Twitter @papasense, and Facebook.