Kenny Bodanis talks about how adults too easily bury the children they were.
It was one of the most exhilarated experiences of my youth, and it took place at least twice weekly: playing drums in front of fifteen thousand fans at arenas around the world. I sat at my station, pounding away. Headphones piped the sound of accompanying musicians into my ears, ensuring I kept perfect time. After all, drums are the heat of any band.
…my bedroom. Any great bands I performed with were tucked neatly into my walkman. My drum set was the air around my mattress – although the sticks were real. Any singing I did was into a microphone resembling a deodorant stick or hairspray can. Imagination is a wonderful thing when you’re ten years-old. Imagination also fades directly in proportion to age, responsibility and free time – which shrinks exponentially with the onset of parenthood.
My wife spent Mother’s Day at the office. I was home with our two kids, once again determined to catch up on chores left behind during the week. Sunday was beautiful and pulled us outside to work in the yard; there was a cherry tree sitting in a pot which was promising to revolt if it wasn’t in terra firma within the next day or two.
Despite the weather, the day home from school, the day off work, despite the lack of any real deadline and the wonderful Sunday rhythm, I couldn’t relax. To the kids – aged seven and five – the wheel barrow (“can I ride in the wheel barrel, Daddy?” “It’s a wheel barrow sweetie.” “No, it’s not; barrow’s not even a real word.”) was a car, a boat, a horse, a bath; the dirt and gravel we shoveled was a pathway to the center of the earth, a mission to discover gold, an exploration for grubs; the trips to dump rocks at the neighboring construction site were a secret mission; lemonade was ‘energy juice’ to replace important essence lost during hard work.
For me, there were self-imposed deadlines: how much could I accomplish before lunch? Why did they have to dig within two square inches of my shovel? I really should mow the lawn, throw in some laundry, fix the tile in the bathroom, and do a little vacuuming. What should have been fun was slowly becoming a chore for no reason other than my own psyche and general grumpiness (should I ever join the military I think that would be my rank: General Grumpiness).
A moment of awakening came as I caught myself having one of those arguments with my seven-year-old which would amaze any outsider with its level of stupidity.
It was eighty-five degrees out; the poor little guy had been shovelling gravel in his jeans and boots for more than an hour. I gave him permission to hook up the sprinkler and have at it, provided he changed into a bathing suit. The escalating argument over whether he could remain in his jeans continued for ten minutes. I finally realized: these jeans, full of mud and gravel are going into the laundry anyway; he is hot, sweaty, and desperate for messy free-play. What was my problem? Giving in, I watched as cooling down turned into a pirate game, a water race game, a game of tag, and a ‘catch me with the spray’ competition. The fun Olympics was happening a dozen feet from me, and I had been doing my best to play my part as the urine-testing fun-police. I think my memories of what it was like to be a kid were being tucked underneath the roots of the cherry tree I was planting.
That evening, I met my wife downtown for a Mother’s Day supper. I recounted to her stories of my exhausting day, my sore muscles, and the muddy kids (just what a mother yearns for after spending Mother’s Day in an office building – a husband complaining about his cherry tree). Fortunately, she listened to General Grumpy as she always does: with patience, understanding, and a touch of teasing thrown in. A shower, a meal out, a glass (or two) of wine, and my wife’s adult company scraped the day off my bones. I felt a little more youthful.
We drove separate cars home – she had met me directly from work. It was dark by the time we left the bistro. I was alone in the van; I took a moment in my parking spot to select a list of some of my 80’s favorites from my playlist for the trip home.
As I drove, the music became louder, my steering wheel became a ten piece Pearl drum set, a microphone dangled somewhere between my imagination and the ceiling of the cockpit, and I once again went on tour.
Granted, like aging rockers everywhere, my concert dates are fewer, the performances are shorter, and – with one hand on the wheel – I can’t keep the same backbeats I used to. But, the sessions are more fruitful as I focus less on learning new songs, and more on reworking the old hits. Through these classics I manage to rediscover the child inside who played them when they were first released. This is the person I plan to bring with me next time I spend the day with my family: this fun guy who’s played for millions of others around the world, but was forgotten in his bedroom a couple of decades ago.
Photo—Man listening to music from Shutterstock