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Location: Midwest, United States

I floss daily, brush after every meal, and trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries.

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

New Directions in Family Rock, Part I

It's been awhile since I've posted about the rock that takes place in the Oral Hygiene household. As old-school readers may know, my Old Man and I both play guitar and are veterans of six or seven bands between us, and though neither of us is currently involved in any vehicle for public rock, we do have amps, a couple of electric guitars, and a bass set up in our humble basement for the purposes of private rocking. The basement rock space also boasts a drum kit, one that began as a kiddie set (bought for O. for his third birthday) and which, as the result of a series of broken cymbals and drum heads and a general desire to have more and better-sounding stuff to bang on, has grown to a full-fledged adult-sized eight piece kit.

So what's been going on in the past year and a bit with the family rock? When I got pregnant with Roo, my Old Man and I worried that having a baby would cramp our rock style in much the same way that babies inevitably seem to temporarily thwart a couple's sex life. (Or are we the only ones that happens to?) O. was more optimistic, offering an enthusiastic prediction that the baby would simply join the band, on keyboards. Eventually, perhaps. But we weren't sure how the three-piece family rock outfit that had begun to take shape would fare while Roo was an infant.

Another circumstance entirely was fated to throw a temporary wrench into the family rock. Three months after Roo was born, we bought O. the new tom drum he'd been requesting for his birthday. And, for reasons that are still mysterious to us, O. promptly went on an extended rock strike. At first it just seemed to be an odd lack of enthusiasm on O's part to try out the new drum he'd been begging us to get him for his birthday. We'd say "O.! Go try out your new drum," and he'd demur. Finally he went down and banged it a few times, seemingly merely to satisfy us. It quickly became clear that he'd developed a weird reluctance to play his drums.

For awhile, it bugged the shit out of us. For one thing, we'd spent hundreds of dollars on this drum kit that was going unplayed. For another, we (or at least I) had been cherishing this fantasy of our son as a drummer, of the family band with O. behind the skins. I began bugging him to play, bribing him to play. Needless to say, none of it worked. You can't force a kid to play drums, and it feels more than a little uncomfortable to try. I was acting like the worst nightmare of Suzuki-obsessed music-pushing parent. Finally, I just gave up. He's young, I thought, He'll pick up the sticks again on his own. Or take up another instrument. Or he won't, and that won't be the end of the world.

But the rock didn't stop altogether. With the drum kit sitting lonely, my Old Man started picking up the sticks sometimes when he was downstairs putting in a load of laundry. He looked a little funny, perched behind a full-sized kit whose only kiddie remnant was the miniature drum stool that made sitting rather precarious. But he sounded great (and impressed the hell out of me, who's never been able even play a basic 4-4 beat). After awhile, he was playing so often and getting so good that I bought him a full-sized drum stool for his birthday. Eventually O. began joining him downstairs and picking out some notes or strumming a noisy open chord on one of the electric guitars. The Old Man would encourage O. to get on the drums, of course, and occasionally he'd agree, but that always seemed to end in frustration, with O. fooling around rather than really playing, or giving up after a minute or two. He was much more into the guitar, and after a friend's older brother got a kid-sized electric guitar, O. began asking for one of his own.

So when O's early-January birthday rolled around, we decided a little Fender Squier Mini was in order, along with a little practice amp. O. was thrilled with his present, and he began playing his guitar on a regular basis. I was happy. OK, maybe he's not going to be a drummer, but at least he's not, like, uninterested in rocking.


The strangest thing about all this is that, just a few days after receiving his electric guitar, O. voluntarily got back on the drum kit and started playing for real. His beats hadn't suffered from his drum strike, which ended almost exactly a year after it began. Now he and the Old Man are rocking regularly, trading off on guitar and drums. And I've even begun heading back down to the basement to plug in every so often. And baby Roo is getting in on the rock action, in her own way. A keyboard prodigy? Well, no. At least not yet. But that's a story for another day...


Blogger DoctorMama said...

I am always struck by how amazingly beautiful that child is -- and pictures don't even do him justice.

This made me think of my own discomfort about being annoyed that my son, after "playing" guitar every single day for, like, two years, just set it aside. I'm not invested in his playing, really (unlike you, I have no rock bona fides), it's just -- hey, that was cool, and that guitar cost some dough!

8:44 AM  
Blogger E. said...

Thanks, DoctorMama! I think he's stunning myself, but I can't tell how much of that is seeing him with a mother's eyes. I do know, objectively, that he has the longest dark, curling eyelashes of anyone I personally know. I covet them. (Mine are short and red-blonde.)

7:05 PM  

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