Father’s Day was full of fun and fatherly bliss. Although, after eating a fabulous breakfast of eggs benedict and fresh fruit, I made a mistake. Instead of doing nothing on a lazy Sunday, I decided to do an inventory of our camping equipment for an upcoming August vacation. This is the scene in which the father attempts to organize two eight-year-olds and two eleven-year-olds to set up some tents on a hot last day of spring.
The crew was a little slow and complained about sweat and bugs; and while there were many bugs, they were too stupid to be much trouble. I find that the late summer bugs that have learned how to abuse humans are the worst. Of course, kids hate bugs period and there was some tension over being forced to set up tents on the front yard in the sun. Perfect dad at breakfast had acquired some of the blemishes of real fatherhood by mid-afternoon.
Then something amazing happened. In the late afternoon I heard my eight-year-old daughter singing: “You can cry all you want but you have to lie still.” She sang it in a rock blues riff. It sounded like some Zappa song from the '70s or even some metal tune from Nine Inch Nails. It was that catchy and disturbing that I wondered (very dad-like) how she could have heard that song, let alone be singing it.
“You can cry all you want but you have to lie still.”
The whole thing was giving me the creeps. “What’s going on in that school of theirs, dammit?” Dad was now wandering the house, grumbling in the very dad-like way. I did a few searches for the source of this tune that as I sang it in my mind I was more convinced was something I’d heard at a drunken concert in my 20s. There was a tune The Troggs performed called "You can Cry." And They Might Be Giants had a tune called "Lie Still Little Bottle." Clearly, none of that had anything to do with what my daughter was singing and as I was starting to feel like I just didn’t want to know, I took a breath and finally asked herdirectly.
“Regan, what is this blues tune you were singing, ‘you can cry all you want, but you have to lie still?’”
“Why it was for Ajax, daddy,” she said with a big smile, referring to our six month old infant.
Now I’m more alarmed. First she’s humming some bondage sounding tune on her own, now she says she singing it to her baby brother.
“Why are you singing a song like that to little Ajax?” I asked, again in a very dad-like way.
“I made it up, daddy.” She beamed.
Now I was disoriented. What was she thinking?
“Daddy, he always squirms so much when I change his diaper. I don’t mind if he cries, but he just has to lie still for me.”
I was stunned. My moralizing, worry-wartitudinal daddiness caused me to miss a little miracle here. Regan was serenading her baby brother with a tune as catchy as a hit from Aerosmith. She made it up herself.
“Regan.” I asked, very un-daddy-like now, “Did the baby respond to your song?”
“Sure daddy,” she told me “He loves the blues.”
Well there you go. Happy Father’s Day JH. And maybe I should work on some more lyrics for: “You can cry all you want, but you have to lie still.”
We could have a hit on our hands.