FatherSon Ventures

Building a Relationship through Adventure

The Really Big Music Show

Written By: Scot Butwell - Sep• 02•12

big_show_12-300x255“Criss-cross, apple sauce,” I say.

D and I sit on the library floor the following week, surrounded by a motley crew of twenty to thirty kids, waiting for “The Really Big Music Show” to begin, as a part of the library’s summer reading program.

Ironically, in the few other summer library events we go to in the next few years, not one related to reading–but that’s another story and off the topic from my learning to be a good dad.

D will be starting preschool in less than a month, and besides coming for the music show, we’re here to practice the “school-readiness” skill of learning to sit still. Yes, that’s right, I’m here to teach my son how to sit still.

This lesson, I tell myself, will be the foundation of D’s journey from preschool to elementary school, middle to high school, and on into higher education. As a high school teacher, I know the worst students don’t pay attention very well.

The lesson doesn’t start off so good.

The first time I say “criss-cross, apple sauce,” D leans back into my body after ten seconds, and it shrinks to five and two seconds the next two times I say “cross-cross, apple sauce.” I know what L would say if she were here: I should not be sitting behind him.

I look around, and every kid has their legs crossed and hands folded. No lie. True, most are five to seven years old, and they have a few years of school experience, but even the toddler-age kids are sitting perfectly still.

“Criss-cross, apple sauce,” I say again, as if I am Harry Potter casting a magic incantation on D to sit still.

Four tables of grandparents sit behind us and watch this very public lesson, and after my fifth or sixth “criss-cross, apple sauce,” I am ready to give up from the diminishing results, even though I am not the giving up type.

“Criss-cross, apple sauce,” I say one final time in a less confident tone.

Then I realize something: D’s trouble sitting still isn’t related to difficulty regulating his body as I had thought; it’s not because the “sensory wiring” in his body is different from other kids.

His occupational therapist had told me D’s sensory system is different than other kids–true–but that’s not the reason he isn’t sitting still. No, he just wants to be physically closer to me.

He just wants to sit the way he does with me at home on the living room sofa while watching tv. Then I realize something else: Physical touch–and quality time–are his primary love languages!

So we slisten to “Surfin’ USA,” “La Cucaracha,” “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” “Shoo Fly” and “The Ants Go Marching In,” and I forget all about teaching D the essential “school readiness” skill of sitting still.

The musician plays ten different instruments, sometimes two at a time, from the saxophone and trombone to the electric guitar and violin, and we both enjoy listening to the sound emanating from each new instrument.

He explains the national origin and musical styles for each instrument, including artists of note, taking us on a tour around the world from Italy (trumpet), Spain (guitar), Hawaii (ukulele), Germany (harmonica), saxophone (Belgium), West Africa (dejembe) and tambourine (Egypt).

He sings a high A note and low E note, and we echo him with the audience, clapping our hands in a rhythm and becoming “instrumentalists” to a song about craving a pizza and coke, before he dazzles us with an array of Spanish flamenco notes on the electric guitar.

He plays snippets of songs, and as my eyes scan the audience, I see another father and son sprawled out on the floor, so we are not the only father and son enjoying some “quality” time together with their bodied enmeshed.

Soon enough, parents with grown children tell me all the time, the childhood years will fast become memories. So I take their imparted wisdom and cherish this opportunity to be with D on the library floor.

I figure he will have plenty of time–thirteen or fourteen years, to be exact–to learn how to sit still in school. However, we have only a few years to snuggle and listen to music on the library floor.

*The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts, by Gary Chapman

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