Daughters. I have two of them. One is a toddler and the other pushing 9 months. I couldn’t have ever anticipated it, but there is something unbelievably sweet about having girls that I really don’t find myself yearning for a boy like many Dads do. Don’t get me wrong. A boy would be fantastic, but I am really content with my girls.
My wife and I recently saw the movie, This is 40. It is an extremely funny movie that seemed to really capture accurately family life. In one particular scene, the father played by Paul Rudd is making an effort to “enhance” his daughters’ musical education. Dismissing the pop-style tween music that seems to dominate the music scene these days, he tries to introduce them to Alice in Chains. The old Alice in Chains that was steeped in brooding lyrics and heavy guitars. Specifically a song about a man trying to get home from the Vietnam war. A tough sell for a lot of people much less young girls. In his frustration, we comments crudely on how he wishes just one of them was a boy.
When it comes to music, I am a fairly avid metal head. I grew up on the classics like Led Zeppelin, Cream, Rush, Van Halen and The Rolling Stones. I rocked my mullet through my teen years well into college with pride. I am a drummer and skilled air guitarist. When the grunge scene hit in the 90s, I found quarter in band like Alice in Chains, Nirvana and Queensryche.
Needless to say, when my wife and I found out that we were having our first child, I was thrilled with the notion of educating my child, girl or boy, in the artistry of people like Eric Clapton, Neil Peart, Roger Waters and Pete Townsend. One of the greatest gift I received as a father-to-be, was a set of CDs that set classic rock songs to lullaby music. The series is called Rockabye Baby! and are performed by David Ari Leon. I was given The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin. They are constantly adding new acts to the catalog. While there is something somewhat insidious about playing Stairway to Heaven set to the chimes of a lullaby for your infant while she sleeps, I was secure in the knowledge that it was the right thing to do.
In addition to the CDs, I went out and got the clothing. The Rush onsie and the Rock’n Roll t-shirt. I think at one point there was a Black Sabbath outfit too. This was all in an effort to pass on my love for this music to my daughter.
My oldest daughter, now almost 4, has grown into a quite the “girlie girl”. By this I mean she loves dresses, clothes, shoes and make-up. She spends hours changing outfits on herself and her many, many dolls. She didn’t come to this by design by any means. She showed an interest and my wife and I supported it and still do.
A good friend and fellow Dad and I make an annual pilgrimage to see at least one Rush concert a year- assuming they are touring. He has a son that is a few years older than my daughter and this kid loves Rush. He has his favorite songs, sings along, the whole deal. When we go to these shows we see many Dads with their sons and daughters out to see Rush. It’s a wholesome show of great music, lasers and video. Completely family friendly. (If you have never seen Rush live, you really should. They have a phenomenal live show). It has been a dream of mine to someday take my daughters to a Rush show when they are old enough to enjoy it. I fear that the aging band may possibly prevent it, but my bigger fear is that they simply won’t want to go.
When my eldest daughter was around 18 months, I would play many of these songs for her and dance around the living room to try and get her excited by it. She would placate me for about 5 minutes before exclaiming, “Daddy, I don’t like this sound. Turn it off”. Every time, deflated, I would capitulate and turn it off. I would tell myself,” well Rush an acquired taste. Progressive Rock is a tough sell. I should start with Journey or The Eagles. “
Two years later, I have not had much luck. Not for a lack of trying though. I came home from work last week to find my daughter and my wife bouncing around the apartment elated to be singing “Call Me Maybe”, by Carly Rae Jepson. My daughter had an enormous grin on her face, laughing so hard she could barely sing and dance. “Again mommy”, she screamed over and over again. She now sings the song herself on command for anyone who will listen. A tiny little piece of me cringes on the inside, every time I hear it. Yes, its adorable and she is so full of life when she sings it and I love to hear her do it, but a part of me cringes. Every time.
The other day my younger daughter was in a teething crying fit that I could not resolve. My wife and other daughter were out. I fired up my iPod on random to try and soothe her. The raw heavy guitars of Blue Oyster Cult came on and to my complete surprise, she just stopped dead in her tracks. She looked at me and smiled. I sang the song to her and she laughed. This went on for a good 20 minutes. Cities on Flame with Rock ‘n Roll indeed.
It never ceases to amaze me the personalities that our kids have from birth. My girls are still quite young and I won’t ever give up on their musical education. In the end they both have a deep love for music. Whether its Pink Floyd or Justin Bieber, I suppose it’s that deep love of music that I really need for them. If they love their music as much as I love mine, I guess I did OK.