Meltdown Moderato

Posted by: , August 15, 2008 in 11:09 pm


We are musical.  No.  We aren’t musicians.  Unless you count an occasional family jam session:  Ben tapping on my grandmother’s Yamaha portable keyboard, Michael shaking a pair of Melissa and Doug maracas and I, rattling my miniature tambourine, à la Stevie Nicks. 

While in utero, Benjamin experienced two live shows—one at a local college, the other at a performance theater—by indie rockers, Howie Day and Alexi Murdoch, respectively.  Not surprisingly, he remembers neither show.  No worries.  We have the ticket stubs in his baby book.  We recently purchased seats for his first concert en plein air—we’re taking him to see folk rockers, Counting Crows.  In one word, he is:  stoked.

[Side note:  astonishingly, Ticketmaster somehow managed to increase its frivolous handling fees by almost $5 since the last time Michael and I bought tickets to a show.  How much handling is really involved on their end?  I logged on to my computer.  I typed in my ticket request and they printed them.  Yet, that simple act cost an additional $12 per ticket!] 

But, I digress. 

Did I mention above we are also guilty of piping Alexi Murdoch into the womb (via a Sony Walkman strapped to my belly)?  And every day during naptime, Benjamin falls asleep listening to yet another indie Irishman, Damien Rice.  Suffice to say.  Ben knows nothing of The Backyardigans.  Or, those freakish Wonder Pets.  Our household digs music.  And our definition of music does not include The Doodlebops.  Where’s Moe?  Who cares?

So, why was I even surprised when soft-spoken, tantrum-free Ben had his first Musical Meltdown (MM)? 

The first time I experienced a MM, I was taking a shower.  I was rinsing goopy, Lavender-Lilac conditioner from my hair and I heard Benjamin crying.  We have a glass shower, through which one sees only a fuzzy outline of what is happening outside.  Although the bathroom door was open and the top-of-the-stairs baby gate was latched, I was panicked.  I called for Benjamin to come into the bathroom.  Immediately, I saw the blurry outline of a boy wearing Disney’s Cars pajamas, shuffling toward me.  I popped open the door and there he stood before me, devastated, with tear-stained cheeks.  “What happened?” I squealed, searching for any visible sign of injury.  “You missed it, you missed it,” he muttered.  “Missed what?” I said, realizing he was not injured, nor frightened by an intruder, chased by a storybook ogre or any other such trauma that might induce such tears.  “Our song,” he moaned, winding himself into a second chorus.  Huh?

Well, it turns out I had missed REO Speedwagon singing their 1980 hit, “Keep on Lovin’ You.”  A twenty-eight-year-old song had my son in hysterics.  Ah!  But, you see Benjamin loves to sing along to that particular REO Speedwagon song—so, before stepping in the shower, I snuck to my computer and requested our local adult contemporary radio station play it for him.  I knew Ben would love it, especially if the cheesy DJ announced his name along with the request information.  Little did I know DJ Cheesy would play the damn song while I was in the shower!  Ben was in hysterics.  You would have thought I missed all five members of REO Speedwagon playing the song live in our backyard.

That’s when I realized he has it bad.  Since that day we’ve taken note of just how much our kidlet knows and loves music!  He memorizes song lyrics faster than any adult I know.  Within a week of owning Counting Crows’ new album, Ben could sing every word of his favorite song, “Hanging Tree.”  Even now, being a veteran listener of the album, if he misses a portion of “Hanging Tree,” we have no choice but to replay the song so he can hear it in its entirety.

Musical Meltdown (MM) n. a meltdown deemed relatively minor in the spectrum of childhood tantrums; often the inaugural tantrum in an otherwise tantrum-free child; indicated through one (or a combination) of physical characteristics; 1. a quivering bottom lip  2. both hands placed rather defiantly on narrow three-year-old hips.

The REO Speedwagon Incident of 2008 manifested itself via the quivering lip/tears combo.  The latter malady, the hands on the hips, presents itself when Ben misses “Hanging Tree.”  God help Adam and the boys when Ben goes to their live show.  The whole stadium will have to withstand “Hanging Tree” while it’s played repeatedly for the three-year-old sitting in section B.   

Ben sings Billie Joel’s “Piano Man,” Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” and, he not only knows every word to Don McLean’s “American Pie,” but he can tell you the sad history behind the song.  “Those singers died when their airplane wrecked,” he explains, adding philosophically, “Do you think they went to Heaven?” 

While listening to Fleetwood Mac, I’m never surprised when he distinguishes Lindsey Buckingham from John McVie.  “That’s Lindsey,” he’ll exclaim, as the ’92 Gibson Chet Atkins wails.  He’ll also enlighten us when Stevie Nicks sings solo.  While listening to “Edge of Seventeen,” for example, Ben exclaims, “That’s Stevie,” adding, knowingly, “solo.”              

Is this a sign of musical genius?  Does this behavior confirm a musical-rhythmic intelligence as categorized by Howard Gardner?  Maybe.  Or, maybe Benjamin is simply the product of two people who deeply value their CD collection.  And if you get the idea he listens to too much classic rock, don’t be fooled.  He entertains us with lyrics from Ween’s hilarious 1970s-esque, “Your Party,” as well as selections from Green Day’s American Idiot.  In fact, I’ve had to cut back on playing Green Day.  While recently cruising in the Dodge Caravan, I heard some of Billie Joe Armstrong’s profanity-laden banter repeated by the little angel in my backseat.    

I’m sure you understand why we might make an abrupt switch to REO Speedwagon now and again.

 

 

 


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