Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The way I like it is the way it is

I know I bitch and moan a lot about how hard it is to stay at home with Nolan, but there are certain perks to having a small child around the house.

I have now conditioned him, my own little private science experiment, to yell out, "Phone's ringing, Dude!" whenever the phone rings, which is harmless and makes me chuckle.

And I know I have mentioned previously my history of replacing song lyrics with ones suitable to my immediate situation, and that hasn't changed (I've just stopped writing about it):

The other day I was getting Nolan down from the dinner table, which involves much squirming and thrashing and whining when I'm wiping his face (for some reason wiping the hands doesn't bother him, just the face) and to distract him, I started to sing. He was slumping down in his seat, trying to maneuver his face as far away from the washcloth as possible, and I kept repeating "Sit up. C'mon, sit up. Sit up!" so of course the song that came to me was James Brown's "Sex Machine," with its call-and-response "Get up! Get on up...Get up!" structure. So I started to sing it. And lo and behold, Nolan was interested. "What's that song, Mommy?" he said. (As a side note, we have now entered that phase of toddlerhood where he's constantly asking, "What's this? What's that?" and it's not so much driving me crazy as it is wearing me down slowly, question by tedious question.)

So I put it on the stereo for his edification, and we boogied around the living room for awhile, with Nolan doing his trademark arhythmic toddler seizure/dance. We let it play while we were cleaning up after dinner and getting PJs on, then put Nolan to bed and thought nothing more of it.

Well. Our little funkmaster has now made James Brown's "70's Funk Classics" (not even a real album, as far as I know, just a re-issued collection for those of us who want the Godfather's go-to hits only*) his favorite CD. We listen to it at home, we listen to it in the car...he can't get enough. The first time he asked for it, he said, "Mommy, can we play that Brown James song?" and after I got over my giggle fit I obligingly put it on. He listened intently, and each time a song faded out, he would say, "Is there going to be more, Mommy?" and when a new song came on, he would ask, "What's this song called, Mommy?" like he's expecting a quiz at the end.

We listened to it in the car on the way over to my mom's last week to do laundry (for yea, I say unto thee: the washer, it is still kerflooey) and after shoving a load in, I came out into the living room to see Nolan boogie-ing around by himself, mumbling/singing, "Shake your money maker! Shake your money maker!" It did my heart good, I tell you.

And he hasn't gotten tired of it yet. The other night when Nolan and I were snuggling in the rocking chair in preparation for bed, he said, "Where's the bridge, Mommy?" and I was like, "Huh? What bridge?" And he said, "You know, when he says he wants to go to the bridge." (Nolan often comes up with non-sequitors where he seems to assume I can read his mind, and he'll sometimes get mad when I genuinely don't know what the hell he's talking about.) So I said, "You mean James Brown? When he says 'Take 'em to the bridge?'" (and I do my pathetic James Brown impression) and he says, "Yeah! Where's the bridge?" So then we had a whole discussion about actual, structural bridges versus musical bridges. I relayed the whole thing to KB after Nolan was tucked in, and we just shook our heads in wonder.

You got to be careful what you expose your kid to, because you never know what they'll soak up. They're like sponges, they are.

Thanks for reading.

*Although, now that I think about it, it doesn't have "I Feel Good," which I would guess is the number one most well-known James Brown song. Alas.


Electric Mayhem said...

My heart swells. Please get video of this.

Erica said...

Wow,...that is totally amazing.

Zach said...

I love it! And be thankful it's James Brown...
My youngest nephew, at the ripe old age of 4, when asked what his favorite band was, would reply in all honesty, "Tool!"
Now, at 6, he can identify just about any rock song at the first strains or drumbeat, can tell you who the singer, lead guitarist, and/or drummer is for bands from Aerosmith to Nine Inch Nails, and can sing every last word of some Nickelback songs flawlessly. He hilariously went straight from the toddler seizure dance to the air guitar and drums spazz. It's unclear where he picked up any of this.
At least you won't need to censor James Brown or pray he doesn't burst into song in front of his kindergarten teacher.
Yay! Music! Must see video of Nolan funking out!

Trenton Payne said...

Hello from Tonga!!!!

These are exactly the things that make it so hard to be in the middle of the South Pacific. Lara would love to see little Nolan dancing and singing to James Brown. Hello to Kev and tell Nolan Auntie Lara and Uncle Trenton say hello. (aka Lola mo Toni)

Julia said...

Hello from Braintree!

Toddlers have more eclectic taste than people give them credit for. Nate is a huge Johnny Cash fan, with a special preference for "Ring of Fire." This has its pitfalls though, as I have now played "Fire" (as he calls it) so many times that I can barely stomach it. I do think it is cute though, that when he sings along he sings, " a burning thing...and it makes...a fiery engine." He also likes Rusted Root, which he calls Rusted Doot, "Send Me on My Way." Maybe he and Nolan should get together to work on a toddler rock-n-roll album. There could be money to be made here in the toddler niche market.