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Posts Tagged ‘They Might Be Giants’

If your head tells you one thing and your heart another,
before you do anything, you should first decide
whether you have a better head or a better heart.

~ Marilyn vos Savant

Undoubtedly my heart is better than my head, but I’m not sure if that’s saying all that much.  Oftentimes I extinguish the embers attempting to flare into emotions simply because I don’t want to feel those emotions.  And other times the embers are fed by a circumstance or song, and they flicker and come aflame unbidden…causing anything from tight-jawed pain to tremendous joy.

Yesterday Jonah was a happy kid.  My mom waited in the car while Andy and I went to the residence, and Boo was standing excitedly by the front door.  I had brought his “octopus” with me, but a small red-headed boy hugged me and held out his hand for the toy, so I dropped it in his palm, smiling as he ran off happily to play with it.  Jonah didn’t mind, and I can always buy him another.  Jonah’s more concerned with where grandma is, and whether or not there will be delicious things to eat.  We went into his room to gather a windbreaker, and another kid came running in to jump & land on Jonah’s bed.  Another kid was in Jonah’s window because he loves to look out at the playground. Party in Boo’s room.  Jonah tolerated it nicely as we apologized for the handfuls of hair incident from the other day, and asked about his morning (which, they told us, was good).

The caregivers who had endured Jonah’s attack were kind, smiling and telling us Jonah is good far more often and causes smiles more than frowns.  My heart swelled so that tears came into my eyes.  Also he has been doing something new; whereas he used to take his shower and go straight into his room to lie down, now he is coming out into the main living room area to walk circles or sit on the couches with the other kids.  I am glad he seems to be moving toward some sort of socialization, even if the kids can’t really talk to one another (Jonah is one of the most verbal) and don’t actually play with one another in a traditional sense.

He can easily outrun me to the car (Andy could probably catch him, but I just started walking and running, and I tire easily).  There he found his precious grandma, but wanted mama in backseat?  After I’d gotten in the car and Andy had gotten in the driver’s seat,  Jonah turned to me and said “need help?”  I asked him what help he needed and he pointed to his shoulder.  I noticed Andy had forgotten to secure Boo’s harness to the clips on the back of the seat and I secured each clip, in awe of Jonah noticing this mistake and actually asking to be strapped in more securely.  I gave him a ScareMeNot and he stared out the window, watching for deer and the ducks in the pond as we drove off the property and to Andy’s apartment.

I'd brought Valiant Valerie along (a ScareMeNot) and Jonah held her close as he looked out the window...

I’d brought Valiant Valerie along (a ScareMeNot) and Jonah held her close as he looked out the window…

(This was supposed to be a photo of Jonah kissing Valiant Valerie, but the camera was still set on video, so it’s a one-second video instead).

After lunch and a bath, Jonah asked for grandma stay here? and Andy and I brought Jonah to transfer station. I’d queued up Guster’s Easy Wonderful CD but Andy asked him if he wanted Gunther or radio.  Jonah chose radio, which slightly annoyed me because I know Jonah loves Guster and would have been fine with it if we’d just put it in.  Andy calls Guster Gunther because E (who comes with J to bring Jonah to most of his doctor appointments) always calls them Gunther by mistake.  Music on the Top 40 radio stations all sounds the same to me.  I guess I’m a music snob.

Were I in charge of the music my boy is exposed to I’d play all kinds of different stuff, including Guster: all the Beatles CDs, some traditional children’s songs, Marlo Thomas’ Free to Be You and Me, Elton John, Kula Shaker, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Billy Joel’s Glass Houses, songs from Sesame Street, Mozart & Tchaikovsky, 80’s pop music, They Might Be Giants, Simon & Garfunkel, the Grateful Dead, the Hilltop Hoods….all kinds of different things.  And I’d never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever play that dumb Taylor Swift song.

I suppose it doesn’t really matter, so long as he’s not listening to Gangsta rap or death metal.

Jonah’s like me in that his hair grows fast, and already he needs another haircut.  We’d like them to give him a buzz cut at this point, for it is getting to be warm, and that way it’s out of his face and will grow back in soon enough.

I’m anxious to take Boo on walks in the woods, push him on the swings, watch him dive into the pool, smile at his widened eyes when train comes toward us and passes by.  I want to take him to a Guster show and not have to leave.  I want to be with him on the beach, watch him cavort in the ocean and run barefoot along the jetties.

Yesterday M’s daughter J was here; we held hands and ran together to the park, where we kicked and bounced a beach ball around, and went on the slide together, and chased one another, laughing.  M and Jack-dog followed behind while J and I goofed around on the playground.  Later we walked, just J and me, to Stewart’s, where I let her pick out ice cream and a surprise snack for her daddy.  I looked around me and realized people figured I was her mother.  For a moment I knew what it was to be in public as “the mother” of a “normal” kid.

It felt, well….normal.  Which in my world is pretty damn strange.

I have two blooming multicolored tulips in my yard now, and I’ve re-stacked my stone cairns.  Time to oil my Buddha tucked into the bushes out front.  Time to make nature pictures in the woods.  Time to rejoice in the springtime.  May 1st is coming – my favorite day of the year, because it slams the door on winter with the satisfying sound of finality, and who doesn’t love that?

“Ha ha ha ha
People are laughing
Children are singing
Come join the dance

And the walls around us
Which we kept at such a cost
When we turned around
Came tumbling down

Ha ha ha ha
She can’t stop laughing
He can’t stop singing
First day of may!”

First Day of May by James Taylor

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Narrator: How can he possibly resist the maddening urge to eradicate history at the mere push of a single button?
The beautiful, shiny button?  The jolly, candy-like button?
Will he hold out, folks? Can he hold out?

Stimpy: No I can’t! Yeagh! (presses button)

~ The Ren & Stimpy Show

Another fun ride in Jonah’s amusement park of life is “button.”

“Buh-ih?”  he asks, lazily mushing the consonants.  (He’s a big-time consonant musher).

What he wants, if you will believe me, is to sit on one of the two chairs in the computer room and turn the printer on and off and on again by pushing the big, candy-like button.  This is usually verboten, but once in a while I’ll allow him to press the beloved button five or six times.  I think a large part of the charm for Jonah is the racket of inner mechanisms coming to life and then shuddering to sleep, all accompanied by bright, blinking red & green lights.  I don’t want him to break the thing, of course, but he asks “button?” so sweetly that he’s hard to resist.

He also loves to sit on my lap at the computer and watch videos.  For a long time he begged for “the ocean” and I’d play short videos taken in Cape Cod of him romping in ocean waves.  When he was younger he liked Disney, Wiggles, and other kids’ websites; nowadays I like to play him YouTube music videos by They Might Be Giants and Schoolhouse Rock — but ultimately egotism prevails; his all-time favorite computer activity is to watch himself watch himself on video.  I know that’s confusing but it’s also the truth.  He wants to watch a video in which he watches himself in my dresser mirror while he sings a Guster song.  Of course he doesn’t have an ounce of modesty or self-consciousness about this self-absorption, which is funny to see.

Do I have a young Narcissus on my hands?  He really dug the pool too.  He fell in love with his own reflection in a pool, right?  Maybe I’m onto something.

In 20th century pop culture, I just read on Wikipedia, Bob Dylan’s song “License to Kill” refers indirectly to Narcissus:  Now he worships at an altar of a stagnant pool /And when he sees his reflection, he’s fulfilled. I’ll have to play that one for Jonah.  Maybe he can learn it, watch himself sing it in my dresser mirror as I tape him, then later watch it on video.  Then I could videotape him sitting there, watching that on video.  And then videotape him again as he watches that on video.

Ow.  No.  That hurt my brain.

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“Triangle man, Triangle man…

Triangle man hates Particle man;

They have a fight – Triangle wins…

Triangle man!”

~ They Might Be Giants

Jonah loves musical instruments.  While digging though his toy box to clean out broken or outgrown stuff, I came across a triangle and beater.  It was one of those things he didn’t have a whole lot of interest in two or three years ago, but I demonstrated its use and then handed it over to see if he’d like it.  Immediately he jammed out, playing in definite rhythm to a song in his head…I think it may have been “Jingle Bells.”  (Since Jonah doesn’t really understand the concept of seasonal music, he’s just as apt to perform a Christmas song in July as December).

Just the other day he was in the bathroom sing-shouting “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.”  He butchers both the reindeer names and their order of appearance:  You know Datter and Bitzen and Danter and Comma!  Dishen and Rudoff and Rudoff and Rudoff!

This from a kid who can memorize lyrics of most songs nearly perfectly, if you forgive his lack of diction.

I wish I could’ve taken him with me to see the Dark Star Orchestra, a Grateful Dead re-enactment band my cousin Brian and I went to on Saturday night.  We stayed in the back and danced, and I think Jonah would’ve loved it.  But is it worth the $31 ticket price to take the chance?  I suppose the concert would’ve been loud enough to drown out any of his annoying screeching or yelling, but what if he flipped out completely and we had to leave, or he ran through the crowd and got lost?  These fears keep me from taking him with me to a lot of things.  I’ve tried and regretted it too many times.  And I’m selfish enough to admit that I really enjoyed being at the show with just my cousin.  (I danced like I did when I was 20 at a Dead show… spinning, grinning, whirling, stomping around.  Stupid Deadhead, spinning’s for kids!  Eventually I spun myself right into a wall and had to sit on a step to rest.  And when it was all over, I limped back to the car like a peg-legged pirate.)  I guess I ain’t 20 anymore. 

So Jonah’s in his room now playing a keyboard toy.  He’s been banished there because he tried to attack Andy on the ride home from after-school program.  He was okay at school, and good at after-school, so Andy was going to take him to Burger King (right up there with Grandma’s house on the list of Jonah’s favorite places to go) — but then Jonah lost his shit.  So no Burger King.  Andy swears he’ll crack him and I think if anyone can do it, he can.  I’ve also got a meeting with a child psychiatrist who consults with kids at Wildwood; I guess the doc is going to observe Jonah (with my luck Jonah’ll be an angel that day) and then offer some recommendations.

I sure hope this dude’s got some good ones, ’cause we’re running short on ideas here in Jonah-land, and it isn’t a whole lot of fun.

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