Sunday, August 25, 2013

Walkmans I have loved

My first one was back in the early 80's. It might have even been in the late 70's when I was still in the single digits. I had found $75 dollars on the street during a walk when I went to kick a brown paper bag on the side of the sidewalk in the Bronx. When I went to pick it up (I was responsible even then) and put it in the garbage I noticed the $$ and felt like the luckiest kid the world. $25 went to my sister and $50 (a fortune at the time) went to Radio Shack and a Sony Walkman. They were the newest thing and I was already a lover of music and was so excited to have my very own player. It played cassettes, came with its own earphones, was blue and silver and was almost the size of a VHS box. A little bigger actually. I loved that thing. I loved walking up to the local grocery store listening to my Air Supply cassette, the music turned up loud so that nothing but "I'm all out of love, I'm so lost without you" was all I could hear. The Bronx was sometimes loud as you can imagine. Living with an opera singer (my dad) was sometimes loud. There was loudness growing up.

It was such a delight to put on those headphones and just listen.

I love Music. I would fall asleep to it on low. I would wake up to it. Listen to it on the bus to and from school, on the subways and buses that took me around the city. My walkmans got smaller as my music collection grew. I graduated to a Aiwa player that could fit into my pocket. Then a discman. Years later I had the faux iPod and then finally the actual apple device.

Before Simon was born I imagined myself taking lots and lots of walks with him either in sling or stroller, getting back in shape, and listening to music to pass the time.  Even before he got sick it didn't work that way and certainly after we started our stay in the ICU and I was spending 17 hours in the hospital, music and a 'player' showed up differently for me.

I stopped putting on the earphones. We still played music, Simon and I, but it was different. It was together. It was singing. It was for expanding his and my world. During his first 4 months it was a lot of singing. I sang that boy every camp song I could remember (and after 23 years of being at/ working at camp, that was A LOT!). We played classical, jazz and folk. I even threw in some R&B, rap, and Pop so that he'd be well rounded. I loved having music playing while I bounced, nursed, change diapers, and repeated that cycle for hours on end.

When Simon got sick and we landed in the ICU, that first day, we danced to Brand New Day from The Wiz. We needed to feel the hope, the beat, the magic that music can infuse into a contradictory environment. We brought in our player and had music going most of the day and night to counterbalance the beeping, the alarms, and the sounds of an ICU. We played Om for Simon. We played Pachel Bell's Canon for Simon. We played early Michael Jackson and Joni Mitchel for Simon.  I was as glad for portable music then as I was that day at Radio Shack when I turned on my walkman for the first time and heard Cracklin' Rosie get on board and felt my world begin to have its own soundtrack.

Today I woke up to an empty home, save for Roxie dog. Jaime and Simon are in Oregon. I have a few days for myself. No tube feedings. No meds. No appointments. Just me and the dog.  So I strapped the gentle lead on the dog, put my 40th birthday present in my ears (an iPod touch!) and headed for a nice long walk around the lake. It's my new practice. I practice moving my body. I practice smiling. I practice taking care of myself (and Roxie who's getting older but still needs to get all fours moving). My goal is to be known as the smiling short haired lady who walks the lake and says "Hi" to everybody. I still listen to music. I just turn it way down so that I can listen to the sounds of my beloved city and every response to every "Hi" I offer up. I think of it as an homage to Oakland, to Simon, to expanding my world in the same way that I was looking and am looking to always expand his.

And, his is about to be blown wide open. He's starting Kindergarten in less than 10 days. He's heading into a classroom with at least double the kids than he's used to, fewer teachers, and a curriculum that's gonna kick him into a higher gear than he's ever been. It's so right on time. He's been getting ready for this in one way or another for the last 5 months. His eating and talking kicked into high gear in April right around his birthday.  He learned how to swim underwater and stuck with his thrice weekly lessons. He attended summer camp for 7 weeks this summer with a full day schedule that included less tube feeding, a typical curriculum and a larger class size with fewer teachers.  It wasn't an extreme shift but just enough to be a graceful middle ground to what he's going into from what he's come from. A Special Day Class is 10 or fewer students with three teachers for 2.5 hours a day. Simon was in camp with 15 kids and two teachers for 7 hours a day and he did splendidly. He also learned how to swim, solidified eating 30-50% of his nutrition by mouth and is engaged with his peers in new and wonderful ways.

We have a lot to do this year for sure but these last few months have really been about opening and taking risks and stretching the little man's world in big ways. Not too painful, but like a nice walk around Lake Merritt, smiling, saying 'Hi' to strangers, and listening to the soundtrack of both the city and the music in my ears, his entire magnificent self has been worked out but is also ready for more.

Pick up tomorrow is at 8:10am. And yes, I will follow the bus and make sure he gets his tiny hiny into class (and not just because I have to turn in paperwork.)

It's Kindergarten folks!

It's Serious!
 Or maybe it's like flying a kite!

Or, we could just Dork out!