It’s A Family Affair: Listening To Music With The KidsSerge Bielanko
Last summer something kind of enchanting happened.
My wife, Monica, and I got ourselves a little Lo-Fi record player, hooked it up, put on an old Sinatra 33 someone had given us and boom: that was that, I guess.
We looked at each other across the room and just sort of knew right away that we were hooked.
By that weekend we were vinyl junkies, the jittery people you spot pillaging through tattered cardboard boxes of mildewy LP’s in the back of thrift stores and at yard sales and flea markets.
And it changed our lives, too, I’d say.
Violet, our three year old daughter, will point at the turntable and holler out of the blue,” Bilwee Howiday!” (that’s Billie Holiday, if you don’t speak Martian).
I had always wanted our kids to grow up with music playing throughout the house, but we aren’t really the type who sit around the table after supper playing fiddles, you know? And unfortunately for Monica, and probably for Violet and Henry soon enough, I’m really afraid I have settled into more, how shall I say this with humility… okay, I have been encumbered with more ‘refined’ tastes these days, musically speaking.
Or, I guess you could look at it like Monica, who still buys tons of new music/ still cares about what bands are coming out of hipster Brooklyn/ and still even falls in love with skinny emo boys now and then, and just say that I’ve gotten old and lame.
She looks at me when I put on Dexter Morgan or Art Blakey or some other jazz king and she rolls her eyes and mumbles, “Elevator music,” under her breath, but loud enough for it to still sting me a little.
Either way, these days, despite our differences, Monica and I have managed to create this mellow evening world where, if you zoomed in/ shooting down out of the sky and in through our kitchen windows, what you’d see would be Violet and Hank running around with their plastic dinosaurs and coloring with crayons on the walls of this house to the cool strains of The Temptations or Louie Prima or Smokey Robinson and The Miracles or some Italian vocalist or even, if I’m lucky, some jazz (when Monica is on the couch and sucked into some Hard Evidence or some Bethenny on the tube).
Soon enough though, I know that it won’t be this way.
Soon enough, I realize that bedroom doors are going to be slammed shut, and that strange songs are going to start to play in there.
I’ll know then that our little sweet listening parties are over, for awhile at least. Then, Monica will probably just sip her tiny ear buds in when I’m not looking. And I’ll just be standing there, man, cracking a cold one/whipping up my special Thai stir fry/singing along to some old Dinah Washington tune.
Serge/Dad/Me: oblivious for maybe five or six minutes. Just a simple fool with no idea that the entire house has tuned out all that big musical magic we had for a little while there.