Later, while I was preparing for bed and he was puttering about the bedroom, I called him to me. “I want you to hear something,” I said, careful not to let on that the musical gift he was about to receive would change his life. He acquiesced easily enough, sitting on the side of the tub. I pressed play on the YouTube icon and listened to the first few notes dance about the room. I smiled.
He didn’t look up from his phone. “Are you listening,” I asked and watched him nod, still typing away. A strong vibrato filled the space between us as the singer transitioned to the chorus. My eyes narrowed and I counted silently to 5, willing him with the strength of a Jedi not to miss this. He wasn’t soaking in the moment though. I stopped the song.
“What are you doing,” he said to my departing back. I explained (but did I need to?) that one could not properly listen to a once in a lifetime song distracted by social media and/or game day highlights. He sighed and I imagined him shaking his head.
He does not listen to songs very well.
We tag team on most things: Tae Kwon Do tournaments, Saturdays at the aquarium, Vocabulary Parades (yeah, it’s a thing) and even the enforcement of cruel and unusual punishments (no Kindle Fire before bed) to those unlucky enough to forget to clean the playroom after dinner. Those things work for us.
When relaying our nighttime activities to a friend (not those nighttime activities), I agreed that this part, this phase, is mostly going through the motions. It’s boring. Not in a depressing, woe is me way; just in a muscle memory, first we wake up and brush teeth, then we head to school, then we do dance class, then we do dinner and bed…and then it starts all over again kind of way.
That’s the grown up struggle, I think. Childhood imaginations leading you to believe that being an adult is one thing and bills & responsibilities forcing you into another lane. It happens. We don’t dance in the kitchen at night, using the glow of the refrigerator as a spotlight. I’ve never sung lullabies with the kids asleep in my arms while looking soulfully into his eyes (though I once performed an R&B remix of Players Ball that he liked). And there was only the one time that I re-created my wedding vows and presented them to him (*cough* when I failed to purchase an anniversary gift) so romance, it’s safe to say, is not our strong suit.
But showing up is half the battle, I suppose, especially deep in the trenches of everyday boredom like we’re in now. He knows I err on the side of caution and so I know all of the Urgent Care/On-Call Physicians by name, because I like to pop in and make sure my children aren’t dying. He saves me the bag fries even though “I’m not eating those, too much starch, you know”…and so I wait until he’s out of the room, and even when my ups are downs and my head is all cloudy so I can’t form logical sentences without crying, he doesn’t make me feel crazy. He doesn’t say the right thing consistently, I’ll be honest, but he’s there and that’s a thing that works for us.
When I finally lay in bed, he turned down HGTV and walked over, “Can I hear your song?”
“It’s a stupid song. I just heard it and kinda liked it.”
He sat on the floor, “Ok. Can I just hear a little?”
It’s a short song. He laughed at the part, “You're my water when I'm stuck in the desert, You're the Tylenol I take when my head hurts, You're the sunshine on my life…”