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Canon

Owen his this cheap plastic star thing that plays music and flashes colored lights onto the ceiling of his room. We bought it months ago in a desperate ploy to find anything that would extend the time he spent in his crib. It didn't work, of course, but he loves the toy. Nearly every time he is in his room he toddles over to it and pushes the button to turn it on.

One day last week, I was having an especially desperate time trying to get Owen to take a much-needed nap, so I turned on the star and then sat in the glider holding my screaming, squirming, flopping, royally pissed off child pinned to my chest and rocked and rocked and rocked until he finally gave in and went to sleep. As I sat there, biding my time, trying to guess the perfect moment to make the attempt at moving him to his crib, I noticed that the star was playing Pachelbel's Canon.

That wasn't unusual - it was on the classical music setting and there are only two pieces of classical music so Pachelbel's Canon repeats every four minutes or so every time Owen turns the thing on. But I'd never really listened to it. So I did, and it was awful. It was a beautiful, sometimes possibly even transcendent piece of music rendered through a cheap Chinese plastic speaker from an even cheaper recording. It was too slow, plodding, graceless, tinny, everything you would expect, considering the source.

I sat there rocking and thinking how something so magnificent can be made so plain. How if that was your only exposure to Pachelbel's Canon, you would think it just another piece of mediocrity and never guess the power and beauty it is capable of expressing. And I thought how it was something like parenting. How if your only exposure to parenting was the night you only got six non-consecutive minutes of sleep or the day you changed 14 poopy diapers or that interminable afternoon where you played 43 straight games of Candyland with someone who regularly cheats, you would think it was just another bit of drudgery. And oh, it can be drudgery, it can be tedious and mediocre and boring, but it can also be powerful and beautiful and transcendent, and it is the memory of when it is nearly perfect that you cling to when you are working through the cheap Chinese plastic days.

And then I realized that I had just compared my life to a $15 toy I bought at Target, and decided that Owen wasn't the only one who needed a nap.

Comments (13)

Haha nice, Beth! That song has been totally ruined for me by way too many weddings :P But yes, it can be truly beautiful (and it's still pretty fun to play.)

Michael is 4 years old and he still listens to that every night when he goes to bed. He call that his "tars."

That was my wedding song. However, as I tried to hum it, I first landed on "Fur Elise", but fortunately recognized that wasn't right.

Then I tried again a little harder and almost got it, but my brain stereo flipped to "Stairway to Heaven" and I can't get it back to Canon AND I've got "Stairway" stuck in my head. I think I need a nap too.

We have that same star. I don't think Kyle much cares for it, but I like to think flipping on his closet light and cuing up the crappy star music has become routine and that he likes it as much as I do.

But, seriously, I loved the metaphor. I'm going to have quote you in fact on this line: "it can also be powerful and beautiful and transcendent, and it is the memory of when it is nearly perfect that you cling to when you are working through the cheap Chinese plastic days."

It's still a reasonable metaphor, even if it did take a whole lot of sleep deprivation to come up with =)

Excellent metaphor. I have mostly the cheap plastic moments but I am hopeful that some time in the next few years, I will have some big symphony moments too.

My seven year old just asked me the other day why all the toys are made in. So we had a very long conversation about this and it ended in her deciding to adopt baby girls from China when she is grown. Don't ask me how we went from point A to Z but I found it very sweet that she is going to save the world one baby at a time!

I loved your metaphor and it has nothing to do with me needing a nap too! ;)

I'm so grateful I googled that musical piece. It's truly magic.

Great post, Beth!!

This is a beautiful post. Transcendent Parenting? Brilliant.

That last line is AWESOME.

I like this post because it definitely resonates with me...I also love Pachelbel's Canon--we used it for part of our wedding...it really is a beautiful piece of music. Also, Gloworm does a fairly nice- albeit short- rendition of the Canon...not transcendent but still okay.

I just have to say, I love this post.