Saturday, July 17, 2010

Baby Ben: Lover of the Arts

This baby is tuned into the arts, has preferences, and lets us know about them.

First of all, he hates a blank wall. From very, very soon after we brought him home from the hospital he has fixated on paintings or wall-hangings of various types. We have a painting above our bed that he loves to stare at, and will crane his neck to try to see until we turn him around and let him look right at it. He'll stare at it for very lengthy periods of time. I get an extra kick out of this because of the sentimental value of the painting; it's something my sister did many years ago, when I was still a kid, of the bedpost of my grandmother's bed:

He also loves the photograph of the mosaic on the floor in the San Marco cathedral in Venice that we have hanging over his changing table:

As soon as we set him down, he starts moving his head around so that he can see it better. And he doesn't just stare at these works of art--he actually "talks" to them and smiles at them and even laughs!

And whenever we take him into a new room or place, he immediately scans the walls for artwork. Friends' houses, the dentist's office, you name it--he wants to see the art. And if he doesn't find any to look at, he fusses a little bit, and gives us this look like, WTF? Where's the art, man?

Second, he has a definite musical taste. Of course I'm thrilled that he's so tuned into music. However, I'm not so sure about his genre of choice: country. It all started when he was in the womb. As I'm pretty sure I've mentioned, he'd go *nuts* in there every time I'd play Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison Blues with the band. (If you don't know it, it has a very driving rhythm, at least the way we play it. And it's one of the songs I play on guitar.) I couldn't really tell if he loved it or hated it, but it never failed to get a big reaction out of him, and I'd often have to try pretty hard not to crack up on stage. Band on the Run never got that kind of reaction out of him, or any of the other songs I play guitar on! You might think that perhaps he was gravitating toward what we had familiarized him with, but that's really not the case. That is the *only* country song we play, and we never played it all that often (I mean, we played it for every gig we had, but we played lots and lots of songs at our gigs. And it's not like we were working on this one and practicing it all the time, because it's a song we already had down long before he came along). So it was, and remains, a mystery why he responded so strongly to that song, every single time.

And he still loves it. The other night Bob and I were up in the man cave going over our set list for this gig; Ben slept through most of it. But at a certain point he woke up and was very fussy, so I held and fed him while singing/practicing the conga beats on my knees. Quite the multi-tasker, I know. Anyway, the one thing I couldn't do while holding him was play guitar, and we did have one song left that we hadn't gone over yet, which was--you guessed it--Folsom Prison. So I set him down his his bouncy seat and he immediately started to fuss, very actively. Not all-out-bawling, but on the verge. Well, as soon as we started strumming the first bar he stopped all fussing and was completely riveted. Spellbound, even. Staring at me and my guitar with this look of total wonder and awe. I was wishing I had a camera handy! It was amazing.

We have also discovered that he loves the soundtrack to Crazy Heart (a movie Bob and I loved and saw like 3 times... it's the only country record we own, and we bought it because we so admired the songwriting in the movie). If he gets fussy in the car, we put it on, and it placates him. We have to play it at a pretty high volume, though. And if we get sick of it and turn the volume down or, heaven forbid, put something else on, he'll let us know he's *not* ok with that. Even it seems like he's asleep. He'll wake right up and make it clear that we'd better crank that sucker back up again!

Bob has taken to calling him our little shit-kicker :-) And we're taking this as proof that God has a sense of humor, that rocker parents would end up with a baby who only has ears for country....

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