I was still embroiled with work the other night when grandfather clock counted a single chime, reminding me that it was 5:30 and time to quit. The soft din of homework-related questions had waxed into a blurred chorus of “Moms”, so when the words “stinky feet” permeated my brain, I didn’t know if seven-year-old Thing2’s smelly socks had prompted the thought or if someone was actually singing the words.
I looked up from my computer and glanced toward the den. There was Thing2, wearing the smelly socks and singing as he hunched over his sketchbook and writing.
“He wanted to write a song,” explained the Big Guy. Seeing Dad’s guitar emerge from storage, Thing2 had been inspired. No one had ever told that only he could not write a song, so he decided to try it.
At dinner, the Big Guy extolled our offspring’s achievement. “He wrote a song,” he said over and over again. I was proud, but, still frazzled from the day, I didn’t offer the encouragement I normally do.
Thing2 is creativity personified. He sings and dances. He has littered his desk books he has written, illustrated and assembled. He lives for art, and this song was just his latest expression.
I grew up hearing the phrase, “Do what you love.” I repeat it every time I see him fly through the air or ‘publish’ a new book. That night, however, I wondered how I tell my youngest child, to chase artistic dreams when, lately, I have increasingly surrendered mine, partly to depression but mostly to work?
“Dad, I want to write another song,” he said the next night after homework. This single was called Bad Cat. The Big Guy played back up on guitar while Thing2 drummed on a book and sang lead.
“Bad Cat, Bad Cat, sitting on the counter,” it started. There were three more verses on the sins of our chubby black cat.
I started the video camera on the iPhone, and Thing 2, sensing a hit, launched into another chorus. My feet began to tap. My youngest was inspiring me in spite of myself. Most of my best posts start with antics authored by Thing1 or Thing2, and, last night every beat of his drumsticks generated a new idea.
Thing2 was reminding me of what he knows instinctively. Art isn’t a dream, and it’s not a living. It’s life. When the song was over, I gave his newest opus the reception it deserved.
“You keep doing what you love,” I said with a tight hug free of doubt.
Last night I set the alarm for 4 AM again, and this morning, for the first time in ages, I didn’t hit the snooze button. I had homework – to practice what I preach. Completing the assignment quickly reminded me how much art, for me also, is life.
Thing2 may be a bit unorthodox, but he’s turned out to be quite the teacher.