My dad and I dancing together at a wedding.
Whenever Jude hears a beat, he can’t help but start moving and grooving! It is the cutest thing to watch his head bobbing and arms swaying. Lately, I’ve been turning on some music just for the sake of taking 20 minutes and picking Jude up and dancing with him. He loves it.
I’m a quiet person, and you will have a hard time getting me out on a dance floor. But seeing Jude’s unabashed love for music brings me right back to my childhood. Awhile back, Derek and I watched all my old home videos, and there is tape after tape of my sister and me whirling around our living room and dancing, often joined by my dad.
Music is a huge part of my memories as a little girl. And not the cheesy “kid music” (although I’m sure we listened to some). No, what I remember is my dad’s sharing with us his love and taste in music, which we in turn grew to love as well. Every song holds a story and brings me back in time when I hear it.
Sunshine on my Shoulders reminds me of my dad at breakfast, making chocolate chip pancakes and singing his own words to the classic John Denver tune. “Oatmeal in my belly makes me happy, grapefruit in my eye makes me cry…”
Elton John comes on the radio and I’m a kid again, with sandy knees in the backseat of our van (you know, the dinosaur with curtains and a ladder on the back), windows down, driving home from a day at the lake, and my dad pumps the song up as loud as the speakers will handle.
After dinner, he would sometimes put on an Irish Jig (loudly again), and let us go wild when we were supposed to be clearing the table. In later years, we eventually had to stop because our dog would get so wound up, running around and barking at her family that had suddenly gone crazy.
A sure sign of spring is when my dad would hear the frogs singing, and would spot a red-winged blackbird. Then it was time to break out some Moody Blues to celebrate the season to brush away the cobwebs from our windows.
Then there was the just plain old fun and catchy song, Sunflower. It would get stuck in your head for days. My little brother enjoyed playing along to that one on his toy banjo, along with Rhinestone Cowboy.
Once, I was working on a school project about Van Gogh. My assignment was to write a letter to Van Gogh, and when I was telling my dad about it, he immediately unearthed a dusty cassette tape. He sat me down to listen to Vincent’s Song with him, and it captured my imagination.
Growing up, we loved to hate Van Morrison, but now I find myself enjoying the nostalgia of his unique sound and songwriting ability.
Sometimes I will be at the grocery store late at night and hear Marc Cohn’s voice come crooning over the speakers. We know all the words to Blue Suede Shoes and my dad would often describe someone as “a man with a plan and a pocket comb.”
The haunting beauty of uilleann pipes is breathtaking. Dad used to play Magh Seola, and it would make my stomach tie up in knots. Years later, I chose that song to walk down the aisle at my wedding.
He had a song for each of us that he would play over and over and dance with us when we were newborns struggling to go down for the night. Mine was The Last Waltz by Engelbert Humperdinck. Sing by the Carpenters for Allison. Elton John’s Daniel’s Song for Trevor, and Jesus King of Angels by Fernando Ortega for Evan.
Music is such a powerful emotional and bonding tool. It has the uncanny ability to bring you back in time in such a vivid way, and remind you of feelings that have been long forgotten. I’m thankful for the sweet memories with my dad and the unique soundtrack my childhood had.
Taking the time to share something you enjoy together with your child is a precious gift that communicates love and creates bonds that last a lifetime. It doesn’t have to be music–it could be anything at all. Showing enthusiasm over something you can love together is so meaningful. Even if it’s something you may not be interested in, but your child is, you may learn to love it too.
That’s my goal with these little dance parties with Jude. Someday he may not want to dance with his mom anymore, but I know from experience that those memories are never really forgotten.
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