Alex wasn’t a napper. Although she slept through the night early-on, she was up most all of the day. Michael emerged the victor. In part, because he is the truer musician, but also in a nod to the diversity of his tastes. The performers who flavor his musical palate are too numerous to list: Thelonious Monk, Stevie Wonder, Victor Wooten, Dave Matthews, Radiohead, The Beatles, The Red Hot Chili Peppers. The list is varied, wide and willingly and continually expanding.
So, to get the occasional daylight break from my very active infant, I needed to be creative. After much new-parent experimentation, I discovered that the most effective trick in my toolbox of sleep techniques was placing Alex in her swing and playing a selection from Phantom of the Opera.
If you’re familiar with the musical, there is a beautiful love song that closes the first act. Alex would eventually learn All I Ask of You on piano as a gift to me. Offering protection and the soothing of wide-eyed fears, the piece makes for a beautifully resonate lullaby.
All I Ask of You, however, wasn’t the tune to which my daughter settled to sleep. Instead, the one surefire song that sent my baby to slumber was the powerful and loud instrumentation of the overture. To the music of a bellowing organ, a bass-heavy assortment of orchestra brass and woodwinds, a flourishing accompaniment of strings and a powerful selection of percussion that included a loudly vibrating timpani, Alex would nod off.
A fit to her personality in many ways, but also perhaps a supporting argument for the unwitting influence of invitro activity.
Convinced that having babies might put a damper on my frequent theatre treks to New York (big understatement), I had to see Phantom before delivery. Paying a premium for the seats (Alex’s dad still doesn’t know just how much I shelled out for those tickets) and flying to New York when perhaps I shouldn’t have (apparently airlines discourage women from flying too close to their due dates), I made the trip, saw the play, was captivated by the music.
And apparently so was my unborn child.
Phantom wasn’t the only musical backdrop to her young life, however.
I love music. I’ve shared that love and the full assortment of my musical library and tastes with my children.
Soon, they began to return the favor.
First it was the music of their laughter, belly giggles that bubbled from deep in their tiny bodies and spilled over in sparkles from their eyes. Then there were the school-learned ditties they performed in public and private recitals, over and over -and over. Still later, it was the litany of their conversation, a multitude of newly-found syllables and sentences.
But finally, it was their own selection of radio stations and CDs that wrested away my full control of the musical sounds emanating from the stereo and the car radio.
Being older, Alex held sway with her idolizing younger brother for a bit. Then, he fell under the more musically diverse influences of his older cousin Jonathon.
A war ensued. And I was left to straddle a demilitarized zone between a battle-of-the-bands conflict as the clash of their tastes played out from side-by-side bedrooms. Their versions of what constituted “good” music were vastly different from one another, and neither of them had a problem with upping the amperage in an effort to drown out the musical competition next door.
Not only does he fill up and often control the IPod dock; he replicates the music of his favorite artists and creates much of his own.
He plays -just about everything. And brings in his friends to jam with him.
Our house has an open floor plan. There isn’t a room from which you can escape the sound of the music.
But then, I don’t really try.
With the exception of his occasional drum solos, I embrace the tunes, dance and sing (poorly) along. Because, the thing is, it’s really good music.
I’ll admit I miss the melody of giggling babies, questioning toddlers, curious little kids. I miss my son’s voice in meandering conversation. I miss the connection, the words, the interaction.
But for now, I’ll have to accept their alternative.
Because even in the dearth of conversation, I still hear traces of who my son is in his music. If I listen closely enough, I hear Michael -in his music.
Sweet, sweet music.
Alex wasn’t a napper. Although she slept through the night early-on, she was up most all of the day.
Michael emerged the victor. In part, because he is the truer musician, but also in a nod to the diversity of his tastes. The performers who flavor his musical palate are too numerous to list: Thelonious Monk, Stevie Wonder, Victor Wooten, Dave Matthews, Radiohead, The Beatles, The Red Hot Chili Peppers. The list is varied, wide and willingly and continually expanding.