I know of so many sleep-deprived parents who drive around with their babies to get them to fall asleep. This is such a standard practice, that our pre-natal course instructor addressed the topic and advised against it for our own safety (friends don’t let friends DUINS – Drive Under the Influence of No Sleep). In our case, this has worked only very intermittently and I discovered this the hard way.
Our first real road trip came when Amelia was about 8 weeks old. We were headed to Uberdog, an old farm that had been converted into a fantastic dog boarding ranch, for an “interview” with the folks who would be housing our dog Betsy while we were in Boston two weeks hence. In fairness, it was only 2 hours out of town, but it sure felt further that day…at least on the way home.
As promised, Amelia slept most of the way there. The ranch was on a stunning hillside and the accommodations were luxurious by doggie standards. Betsy made some friends and got a great run and Amelia and I sat next to the farmhouse, nursing and playing with the grass.
It was a bucolic scene and a peaceful afternoon… until the ride home. It was then that I was compelled to dig deep into my own childhood road trip experience. Yes, my parents were the ones who sang show tunes in the car and I’m damned proud of it. Not only was it fun back then, it has stood me in very good stead as a new mom.
After a safety check and feed at the rest area, I determined that the incessant crying, while painful to my heart and eardrums, was not an indication of physical distress. I filed it under, “Sometimes you may never know why…”, and decided to press on. The Sound of Music was the first up with “My Favorite Things” and “Edelweiss”. The “raindrops on roses” began to ease the raindrops from Amelia’s eyes, though I will admit that Edelweiss, always sung to me by my father, brought them into mine.
The real workhorses of the evening though came to us from the great Judy Garland and the green Kermit the Frog. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “The Rainbow Connection” bellowed from my untrained voice at least ten times each. As each round started, first distraction then concentration allowed a respite to Amelia’s tears, but the quiet in between brought them back and only an encore performance would satisfy her. And so, with another couple of safety stops and Julie Andrews, Judy Garland and Kermit riding shotgun, we slowly and loudly made our way home; Amelia and I alternately reaching for the top of our lungs and Betsy, curled up in the back, no doubt quietly perplexed about the ensuing racket.
These songs exhibit the true meaning of timelessness in that time cannot dull the joy they bring – even when sung in desperation. Nor is the emotion they evoke merely a symptom of nostalgia, but real feeling each time they are sung – even when sung ten times in a row. Of the many gifts given to me by my parents, this musical library is, indeed, gold and I am grateful for it everyday.
In an unfortunate twist of timing, I humbly add a quick tribute to the late Marvin Hamlisch, prolific composer for film and theater. There was a time in my life that I knew every word of “A Chorus Line”, and “The Way We Were” is as achingly sweet now as it was when when I first heard it. Even now, I discover music that I never knew bore his hand, like the themes from James Bond and the comedy/caper classic, “The Sting”. These were as much the “pop” songs of my youth as ABBA or Air Supply and I believe I am far richer in my musical education for it. Rest in Peace, Mr. Hamlisch and thank you from the bottom of my heart.