Friday, October 16, 2015

Little Drummer Boy Unhinged

My little boy loves him some drums.

Loves them.

I can't say it enough. My son will drum anywhere, anytime, with anything and on anything.

He'll tap out a beat on our foot stool, our couch, the fridge; he doesn't care. Sometimes he grabs a football, or a bouncy ball, and uses that as a drum. Naturally, we've bought him drum sticks and some drums but, one by one, the drum sticks disappear. And what fun is beating on a drum when you've got a wood floor which is, strangely, much louder?

If he can't find his sticks, he'll climb up on a kitchen chair, grab two long utensils from the counter (could be a spoon or a whisk, it doesn't matter) to use rock out a beat with.

Did I mention he likes to climb too?
He loves rhythm and he can really hold a beat — to the point that strangers hearing him have asked if we have him in lessons (we don't). His teachers at school are impressed and occasionally annoyed, just like his mom and dad.

That's because, it often doesn't stop. Once he starts, he goes, and goes, and goes, and goes and goes and goes some more. It's 30 minutes straight sometimes.

His focus is singular and, provided you're in the right mood, it's kind of nice to just sit back and listen to him play.

So, now that I've firmly established that my boy is a budding musical prodigy, here's a story to remind you that he is also, still a little boy.

Having mentioned all of the above, it's clear drumming is an interest Mrs. Blackwell and I want to embrace, if not cultivate. So, it was fortuitous when an opportunity arose to go to a drum concert for kids on a recent Saturday morning.

A group called "Dancing Drum" was having a concert. Here's how it was described by the venue hosting it: "an interactive tour around the world with Dancing Drum to learn about the rhythms, songs, and drums of West Africa, the Caribbean, and the USA. This multicultural performance is full of clapping, singing, dancing, and drumming. Volunteers from the audience will have hands-on opportunities to play drums and percussion instruments onstage throughout the program."

Sounds perfect for the boy, right? He could go and listen to drums with loads of other kids and then even have an opportunity to play drums in front of an audience and be a little show off for a minute. Yes, this was going to be perfect.

It was Mrs. Blackwell who found out about the concert and it was she who sort of laid the groundwork of our plan for the morning.

We'd get up early(ish) and drive toward downtown and the concert venue. On the way, we'd stop off at Mrs. Blackwell's favorite bakery for donuts.

So, we did all of the above. We got to sleep in a bit. Got to laze around for a little bit. And by 8:30 a.m. we were making our way to the donut shop, where we stuffed our faces with fritters and sprinkle-covered treats.

The boy was happy, I was happy and, above all, my eight-months pregnant wife was happy. Everything was moving smoothly — until we arrived at the concert venue.

It was then that the boy decided, "Awww, hellll no."
Sweet, glorious sleep. He hasn't figured out
how to use pillows and blankets yet. 

On the walk from our car to the amphitheater he steadily descended from happy to irate.

Mrs. Blackwell and I believed/hoped/prayed that, once we found a spot to sit and the boy saw all the other kids and — most importantly — the drums, his spirits would rise accordingly.

They did not.

In a room full of about 150 people, roughly half of them were kids and it was ours that was the sole child throwing a fit, and a loud one at that.

After a few minutes of waiting, the drummers took the stage. The boy calmed for a bit but another simmered and erupted repeatedly. While I've described in great detail before what the boy's fits look like, here's a refresher:

He flails. He screams angrily, usually it includes the words "No, I won't" and whatever we're asking him to do "anymore!" (So, in this instance it was, "No! I won't listen to drums anymore!")

Then he goes limp, falls back and cries profusely.

It's a real scene, though it's one we're seeing less and less. This just happened to be the one day where we figured there'd be minimal chance of it happening.

Donuts and drums? What more could our little guy ask for?

Turns out, a little peace and quiet was all he wanted.

On our way back out to the car, there was no crying, no flailing and no tears. He was happy. When we got home, he was still happy. And when we took him upstairs for a nap, we were all happy.

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