My six-year old daughter Arya hands me a sheet of paper with lyrics carefully penned in her large print. “I wrote a song," she informs me. "Do you want to hear it?”
“Heck yeah I do!” I tell her, feeling pleased that she’s become increasingly excited about fiddling on instruments and different forms of writing (she also wrote “a speech” for our friend when he came by for a backyard hang out the other day). In her little quivery voice she sings:
“I want to live; I don’t want to die; but I don’t know what to do, because I don’t believe in you.”
Though later my new bride Cheri would ask, “Should we be concerned about how angsty her song was?” I’m not worried. Arya's engaging in genre imitation (she and my son Finn request similar indie/alternative music from our household spy Alexa all the time). Though, perhaps, the lyrics actually do have a deeper meaning for her. Early stage nihilism?
I ask Arya if she wants me to put some music to it and sing together? She does, and after rejecting my first attempts at chords as being “too wild,” I try something more mellow and we get into a little groove. Soon my seven-year old son Finn joins in on a djembe drum, which inspires Arya to grab an ocarina flute. Maintaining a consistent rhythm is akin to keeping my mother-in-law’s foster kittens from running out the door every time I open it. But, we have our moments, and, in those seconds, I have visions of a traveling family band. My dad had similar visions for our family but he had to settle for him and I being a guitar duo whose primary audience was the farting, family dog “Guapo.”
As Arya, Finn, and I jam, I make eye contact with Cheri and get a momentary flutter in my heart as romance sparks between us as if we were teenagers again. And later, as Cheri brushes Arya’s hair and praises her music, I get a different kind of flutter. Loving gratitude. It’s an idyllic scene until Finn proclaims, “Eww! What’s that smell?” Our dog Ellie, who’s sprawled on her side in front of the fire, raises her head for a moment and directs what I swear is an insolent glance our direction.