Sunday, October 19, 2008
Rough turbulence, the waveburst, split the megahertz
Sleep is like a swift spirit, easily chased away. We've got mad sleep rituals in our house.
I take Alex into the bathroom if he's having trouble dropping off. Turn the lights out and the tap on high, hold him nestled to my shoulder sway back and forth and sing to him. I sing Suzanne, because I love it, because my father sang it, because I know all the words, because I sang it to myself in the shower while I was pregnant, because I never knew what it was about and experienced a moment of pure magical coincidence-glee when my beloved English teacher Mary Redclay passed out the lyrics in class during a poetry section; a glee that turned to frustrated bewilderment when I told her excitedly that I had always wondered what it meant and she turned her steady eyes to me and told me to tell the class what it meant. As with many things Redclay, I was left thinking, "Why does she do that?" And, know what? I still don't know what the hell solemn old Leonard was writing about in Suzanne or any of his songs. My sister thinks they are all about the intensity and depravity and agony of heroin addiction, but she's been known to project just a tad. I sing Suzanne to Alex knowing that someday he will ask me what it means, and I will have no answer for him, and I wonder how my father answered me or if I ever asked, or if I just knew not to ask questions that would make him uncomfortable, even at an early age, or if I did ask and he leaned in smelling of cigarettes and Drambuie and slurred, "Love, my dear, it's all about love."
Alex lets his head fall against me as soon as the first notes are out of my throat, but occasionally, midway through the Jesus verse, he will start a funny, tonal babbling; he's a talkative little dude, and sometimes his own babbling can get him excited, and destroy all my work at lulling him to sleep. So I shush him gently and tell him, "Time for sleep now, Alex" which are our sleep key words. Aren't we fancy, reading the books by the experts and such? Recently he has become more consistent, often continuing his vocalizations as soon as I stop shushing and start singing.
Last week, after the third time I had to stop singing to quiet him, a little nubbin of a thought occurred to me. I started singing, waited for his plaintive little voice, then stopped, but did not shush, and a moment later he stopped. I started singing again and he chirped away. I stopped and he stopped. I spoke in a normal voice and he remained silent. I began to sing, and my son sang with me.