After listening to nothing but the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ newest album in the car for the past two weeks straight, I switched to the mellow, non-consumerism theology of Jack Johnson. But my son didn’t like that very much.
You might think that I am 43 and my son is 13. Actually, I’m only 30 and he’s just eleven months old.
Something funny about my son is that he has never been able to chill out and go to sleep when confronted with appropriate lullabies and soft music. As a newborn, it took Taylor Swift’s upbeat and rockin’ album, Speak Now, to soothe him into Slumberland.
But a couple of weeks ago, I found the Red Hot Chili Peppers newest album, I’m With You, at Best Buy for 10 bucks. Since then, my son Jack has to have it playing on the stereo speakers.
If I try to trick him and switch to something like Jason Mraz, he wakes up and starts crying. So Red Hot Chili Peppers it is; for a total of 80 minutes a day as I chauffeur him to and from KinderCare; I work just down the block from his daycare.
Jack is such a laid-back little boy. But he makes up for it in his refusal to easily fall asleep when he needs to. It’s a struggle- always has been.
In fact, I depend on those daily naps he gets during the car ride. So if it takes a funk rock or punk rock, or even ’80′s rock to get the job done, I’m all for it.
I guess there’s just something about steady bass lines and up-tempo drum beats that help him relax enough to forget about the fact he would rather be exploring the world; especially now that he can toddle. (He turns a year old a week from today and will officially become a toddler.)
So if you’re looking to catch a ride with Jack and I, you better believe we’ll be jammin’ to the beat of “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie.”
For nearly a month now, Jack has been going to day care as my wife and I have returned to our jobs here in Nashville. I work only a block away from where he is all day, so I’m the one to chauffeur him an hour round trip five days a week.
Those “Baby on Board” suction cup signs on cars always crack me up. I’m only pretty sure that a careless driver isn’t going to have the gumption to read one of those signs, then stop and think, “Oh! That car has a baby inside. Man, I need to slow down and focus.” Or maybe there’s some secret society of people playing bumper cars with their cars out on the highway and they only break for vehicles with the “Baby on Board” signs.
Needless to say, there is no little plastic yellow sign stuck on a window of my Honda Element, but I do indeed drive a vehicle containing precious cargo. With my baby on board, I feel like his bodyguard. The Pope has the Popemobile; Jack has his Toaster on Wheels, his Big Green Lunch Box, his Wind-Up Toy Car- your choice.
I know there are cities with crazier drivers in America, but for those 60 minutes a day I drive him around in Nashville, I have to assume that every other person is a maniac who is drinking their fifth 5-Hour Energy drink and Tweeting on their phone while I drive alongside them. I have to assume that at any given moment, a startled deer will jump out in front of the car. I have to assume that Wile E. Coyote poured a bucket of Acme grease on the road in front of me in attempt to catch the Roadrunner.
In the meantime, Jack is asleep half the time as I jam out to any given Weezer album. As for the time he’s awake, I assume he’s like me: in deep thoughts about A) the unfortunate impossibilities of time travel, B) whether or not God likes the music of Dave Matthews Band; if so, what is His favorite song, and C) who would win in a fight- A.C. Slater from Saved By the Bell or Uncle Jesse from Full House?
For now, Jack’s vocabulary doesn’t extend past “dada,” “mehm-mehm-mehm-mehm,” and “ba-ba-ba-ba.”. But eventually, he and I will be able to have some normal conversations during the morning and afternoon car rides. I can ask him what he learned in pre-school that day.
Until then, we’re both just sort of in our shared solitude, looking in opposite directions. Every so often though, I turn around real quick to make sure he hasn’t somehow escaped his car seat and wandered off. Then I see those happy little feet and know that my baby is still on board.
Look how cool Honda Elements are! The back seats can fold up and into the side of the car or all the way back (as seen in the picture of this one).