Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery






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Saturday, January 31, 2009


Letter to My Son #5

Dear Kid,

So you're about three and a half months old now. You're just about ready to start rolling over, although you still hate being on your tummy. You're grabbing Mommy's hair and Daddy's chest hair. You've outgrown almost all of your 0-3 month clothes, so you can no longer wear some of our favorite outfits.

I'm on paternity leave right now, which means I get to stay home and take care of you. It is a wonderful time. Not necessarily an easy time, as even the best babies--of which you are decidedly one--are a lot of work, but it's nice to spend so much time with you.

I've tried to maintain some continuity from the way Mommy does things, but there are definite differences in our approach. For instance, when Mommy thinks you're hungry, she can just--you should pardon the expression--whip it out and give feeding you a try. If it turns out you're not feeling peckish, she can put her bra on and switch tactics. Daddy, on the other hand, has to be absolutely sure you're hungry, because if I pull some breast milk out of the fridge and it turns out you don't want any, I've just wasted some breast milk. And that stuff's expensive.

Another difference is the way we get you to sleep. Mommy seems to have a magic touch and can just lay down with you and, I don't know, emit some sort of drowsiness beam that zonks you out. Daddy, on the other hand, can't seem to do it that way at all.

Instead, I have to sing you to sleep.

Now, it's entirely possible that I'm not trying too hard with any other method because I really like singing you to sleep. In fact, it's one of my favorite things in the world.

Your Daddy's not a great singer. I don't generally sing in front of other people. There was a brief time in college where I would go to karaoke with a big group of folks from the theater department and get up on stage to croak my way through "Walk of Life" or some other unchallenging song, but that's been about the extent of my public performances.

And yet, I was always a big car singer. It's been my habit for a long, long time to sing in the car. Loudly. I don't think I was aware of it, but I'm now pretty sure that, that entire time, I was just practicing for when I'd have to sing my son to sleep.

I sang to you the night you were born. I surprised the hell out of myself, because the song that came out when I opened my mouth to sing to you the first time was "The Tennessee Waltz". I like that song a lot, but it's not what I'd expected to sing. I sing it to you now almost every day.

Actually, we have a pretty extensive set list. Daddy doesn't like to get all repetitious, so I sing a wide variety and try not to sing the same song twice in one day.

I do a lot of Paul Simon songs for you. "St. Judy's Comet" is a fairly obvious choice. But we also do "Bridge Over Troubled Water", "Scarborough Fair", "American Tune", "The Only Living Boy in New York" and "The Boxer". We dip into classic country, too. "Give My Love to Rose" is a favorite. Lots of Patsy Cline, like "Crazy" and "Walking After Midnight" and "Sweet Dreams". "Sweet Baby James" gets a lot of use, as does "Kiss Me, Son of God".

There are times, though, when you're really fussing and I have to break out the heavy guns. That's when I throw down a little "Danny Boy". It's effective. If that doesn't quite do the trick, we move on to "Nothing's Gonna Harm You" from Sweeney Todd. And then there's the A-bomb. The last resort. The Ace up my sleeve. "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". We save that one for when nothing else has worked.

This works. Sometimes it takes a littler longer than I'd like, but it's always effective in the end.

So if, let's say twenty years from now, you're walking down the street and you hear a random song you don't know and it makes you a little sleepy, there's a chance that Daddy sang it to you when you were tiny.

Lots of love,


I'm sighing!
Dearest Spencer,
Your daddy is not telling you the entire truth about his singing ability. He really is quite a bit more talented than he's leading you to believe. I was once in a chorus with your daddy, and he and I were virtually the entire bass section of this extremely successful singing group that gave several live performances at many prestigious venues.

Your daddy was also the lead male part in at least one musical, and a supporting actor/singer in several others.

Ask your daddy to sing the bass part of "The Star Spangled Banner" to you. He rocks the everliving shit out of that song, I kid you not! Or have him give a try to "We Need a Little Christmas" or "My Best Girl" from Mame. You will likely soil your diaper at the sound of his mellifluous, crafted-by-Jesus-himself vocals.

Your fake uncle,

P.S. I'm not sure that I'm officially designated as a fake uncle yet, but I'm lobbying for the position and thought it might help to try on the moniker here.
So sweet. Is this a daddy thing? Owen wants nothing to do with my singing, yet Ted sings him to sleep every night. His sure bet is Neil Young's Out On The Weekend.

I love your notes to Spencer. They're so adorable.

Good luck with paternity leave. I think it's so cool that you're having this opportunity. I hope mama is doing okay with being back at work. I'm sure it's tough on her.
Blackbird: And I just sneezed. Do we really want to go on sharing every single sound we make?

F.U.K.: (Hey! I just got that acronym!) Could we change it to Honorary Uncle Keith so my kid doesn't grow up with potty mouth? And I never had the lead in any musicals. That was our friend with the permullet, who has since lost all that chemically damaged hair.

T.B.: Mama is dealing. It isn't, apparently, easy to be with your child 24 hours a day for three and a half months and then have to spend eight hours a day away from said child. Who'da thunk it?
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