My son tried to tell me tonight about the finite difference in beats in a dubstep selection. It was like he was trying to speak to me. I just know it. With all his might, he tried to draw my attention to the changes in the song (I don’t even know if I am supposed to refer to it as a “song.”) I feel really bad that I can’t hear it, but I am pretty dang proud that he can. Though dubstep may not have been on my musical radar thirteen years ago, his ability to hear those differences was actually part of a master plan.
I have always loved music. I was born in the mix tape generation, and spent far too much time placing that all-powerful piece of Scotch tape over the bottom of my cassettes so I could re-record Hall and Oates without the DJ’s annoying intro covering the first few notes of “Maneater.” Tears for Fears, The Pet Shop Boys, and Kool & the Gang all had their own special sections of that thin black tape wound tightly inside my orange and white plastic cassettes. I, honestly, can’t think of a type of music I didn’t at least try as I moved from the 80s into the 90s and high school. You would think I would have developed a knack for song or dance by that point in my life. Nope. Not a single rhythmic bone in my lanky and awkward frame. The chain must be broken.
In 2001, when I was carrying my son in utero, I wanted desperately for him to love music. He could like Hall or Oates, either, or both. I really didn’t care. My hope was that he would have rhythm, be able to carry a tune, and at least want to clap closer to the beat than the offbeat. Wouldn’t it be great to have a flesh-and-blood family member who could do that? I had no idea how to carry out this master plan, but I knew it had to start right off the bat. I had to get while the getting was good. A captive audience is always best for forcing things like music. So…I bought a handy dandy womb sounds device with headphones. Each night, when I got into bed, I would place the headphones on my stomach and play music for my unborn son. I varied the genres from classical to the melodious strains of Smash Mouth and the smoothness that defines all things Motown. I could do this. My baby would bop.
Assuredly, throughout several months of applying tunes to my womb, my son took note. I would feel him respond to the music, or at least that’s what I told myself. He could very well have been responding to the ice cream I would eat prior to bed each night. Either way, I was happy. There was a rhythm of sorts happening.
Once my son arrived, I continued to play music faithfully in his presence. I cannot in the proverbial bucket carry a tune, but I sang. “Stand By Me” was my go-to when he was fussy. Rhythm of all kinds was so important to me. I would also play Dido for him and rest his diapered bottom on a floor speaker so he could feel the vibration of the music. When I say I wedged music in where I could, I mean it, folks.
Perhaps my most memorable attempt at instilling an appreciation for “da beat” happened in the car. While he was still too young to talk but old enough to sit on his own in his dark blue, Goldfish cracker-covered Graco car seat, I would make sure he noted my music choices. At the time, one of my favorite CD selections was by P!nk. I distinctly recall the day I turned in my seat at the stop sign at the end of my street and took his chubby little fist in my hand. Together, we tapped to the beat of “Get The Party Started.” Again, the goal being only to make sure my child was simply not the boy in the high school pep rally clapping on the offbeat. There I was, the mother of a toddler, frantically tapping my own strange and desperate Morse Code with my baby son’s balled little fist. I can’t imagine what a passerby might have imagined had they noticed. Only time would tell if my efforts were in vain or not. Hopefully, no one in his high school gym would notice if they were.
Whether my efforts worked or whether he was just wired for music, I’ll never know. I’d love to ask a Magic 8-Ball or a Madame Serena, perhaps. This I do know: he adores music. He always has. From The Wiggles and Spongebob’s theme to Elvis and his son-in-law, The King of Pop…my son loves listening to music. And, I am more than pleased to announce, he can clap on the beat. He even exhibits a certain show of rhythm when he allows me to see him dance. Today, his choices may vary from electronic selections from Skrillex to rap from Childish Gambino. But, hey, I’ll take it. He’s got the beat. Belinda Carlisle and the rest of the Go-Go’s would be pleased.
[Photo credit to April Brown Pulliam]
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