It has been a long year. Twenty-twenty has been tough on everyone in their own way. In the grand scheme of things, I know I've been quite lucky. For my wife and I, the biggest challenge has been raising two small children while working remotely. Little kids don't care about meetings or writing sports blogs in a timely manner. They just want you to put Cocomelon on the TV and fix the damn blanket fort for the 50th time in the last 12 minutes. Again, I realize these are good problems to have right now.
My youngest son turned one the week the country shut down. The next day my nephew was born. Not that they'll remember, but my son had his first birthday party canceled and I wasn't able to hold my nephew for months. We missed out on a lot of family time as my son went from a baby to a little person learning how to do everything. Our kids are so young they're not going to remember this. My three-year-old won't really remember missing out on his first year of preschool, even if he does say he wants to ride the bus or go to school every now and then. And that shit stings.
Knowing all the stuff my little guys are missing out on really sucks, even if they don't notice or move on when they get distracted. No, you can't play with your cousins or the other little kids that were in our lives at the beginning of the year. No, you can't go inside and give your great grandparents hugs. I know we've been lucky, but those are moments and memories that just won't exist because of this.
Now let me tell you about a memory that did get to exist.
A few months ago I was with my kids just trying to kill time and get through the day as we do most days. I don't know if it had been a good day or a bad day or an OK day. It was just another day in quarantine, trying to manage. I had lost control of the remote control months earlier. As a blogger, I had spent a decade watching whatever I wanted during the day. Now everyone was around always so it was mostly Mickey and Muppets and the aforementioned Cocomelon.
Having done that all day, I rolled the dice and tried something different. I had seen children on the internet having fun dancing to popular music. So I said, "Hey Google, play dance music." I was hoping for a positive reaction from my kids and some music that I recognized. Maybe "Party Rock Anthem" or PSY or Nicki French's version of "Total Eclipse of the Heart." You know, the good stuff...
I don't really know what I expected, but what I got was a song I had never heard before on a random playlist. That song was "Head & Heart" by Joel Corry and MNEK, an uplifting song and music video fittingly created during the pandemic.
My kids went crazy. Running around in circles for the entire song. When the next song came on, they stopped. They liked that song. They did not want that song to end. So we played it again. Same reaction. It was immediately our kids' favorite song.
We set an alert on Sirius. Whenever the song came on in the car they would both start to dance in their seats like only kids can dance while strapped in like fighter pilots. We could feel their tiny feet kicking the back of our seats. They would try to sing: "buh buh buh buh." They have no rhythm. We played it whenever we needed music. We watched them run around the kitchen and the living room and the back porch over and over to the same song. No other song was quite the same.
I recently realized it was the first song that I would ever associate with them. For the rest of my life, if I ever hear this song I will immediately think of my little not-really-babies running in circles and kicking the back of my seat and yelling "bum bum bum." I'll remember my oldest yelling "ghoul dence moozik" at the car stereo or the Google Home and my youngest climbing on a chair to yell "ghoul!" at his grandparents' Alexa device. They still think it's called "Dance Music" because they are just little kids who don't understand song titles or featured artists.
Months later, my kids are still kicking the back of the seat when the song comes on. They are still happy and healthy and we are still lucky even if most days feature many tense moments. I truly hope that everyone else raising children through this is that lucky. I try to remind myself of that every time the big one knocks over the little one or someone has to be taken down off a table they should not be on top of. I rarely succeed in remembering and savoring the moment and appreciating how lucky I am, but I swear I often try to do all of those things.
So thank you to Joel Corry and MNEK and every other artist who gave a parent a lasting memory this year. Or to any artist who helped anyone get through this. Personally, when I wasn't listening to Cocomelon , Super Simple Songs or "Head & Heart" this year, I was listening to Volbeat, fun., Metallica, Corey Taylor, Of Monsters and Men, Green Day and Ghost. I can't wait for my kids to start to remember that music like I remember the "oldies" my parents listened to when I was a kid. I hope they remember it as fondly as I'll remember their first favorite song, even if they were too young for this memory.