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Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Something terrible is happening at our house. It’s been going on for weeks, but I’ve just now found the words for it. “Daddy” is becoming synonymous with “super fun playtime” and “Mommy” is becoming synonymous with “eating and sleeping.”

What’s wrong, you ask, with having your kid think you fart rainbows? Well, the problem comes when Mommy is already passed out and it’s time to put Little Man to bed but all he wants is more rainbows. And more rainbows. And more and more rainbows.

The other night, a sleepless Leigh Ann brought Nate out for his 1 AM feeding, and this was approximately our conversation:

HER: Don’t look at him.
ME: Oops, too late.
HER: Well don’t smile at him then.
ME: Why not?
HER: Because if he sees you smiling, he’ll spend the next two hours waiting for you to play the ukulele.
ME: What if I play the piano instead?

Leigh Ann was not amused. And, in fact, she was right about the next two hours. But that’s not the point. The point is that I have been stereotyped by my own son. And as someone who has struggled his entire life with the profound disadvantage of being a college-educated white male, I’m sick and tired of it. I’m a human being, for God’s sake. I deserve better. And I will not play another chord on the ukulele, or fart another rainbow until Nate smiles at me.

All right, then. Amazing Grace or Oh When the Saints?

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According to a study from the University of Texas, a father’s diet directly affects his offspring:

A father’s poor eating habits could make his future children sick, suggests new research on mice involving the University of Texas.

The study, recently published in the journal Cell, found that male mice who ate a low-protein diet passed on to their offspring cellular changes in their livers that affect fat and cholesterol metabolism.

This passing on of traits linked to an environmental factor such as diet, using sperm as the vehicle, is one of the theories championed by researchers in the relatively new field of epigenetics.

So there. My crappy cholesterol has nothing to do with all the Ben & Jerry’s I’ve consumed, or the Reese’s peanut butter hearts/eggs/trees, or the Cadbury Creame Eggs. It has to do with the fact that my father starved himself from ages 14-18 in order to make weight for the wrestling team. Nice work, Pa! Sure, you made the state finals. But did you ever stop for a second to think what you were doing to me?

But, seriously, if you’ve never heard of epigenetics, here you’re chance to Google something besides “PETA Veggie Love commercial.” This article from last month’s Time is a decent place to start. Or, if you don’t like reading paragraphs with more than 3 sentences, or sentences with more than 3 words, check out the NOVA series called “The Ghost in Your Genes”:

You know how we laugh at the medical information our parents took as fact?

Well, our kids our going to repay us in kind.

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Over at PopMatters, Timothy Gabriele explores the similarities between ambient music and what babies hear in the womb. Of particular interest are his thoughts on the auditory development of his 6-month-old daughter:

. . . parents and caregivers responsible for the sound development of the infant have a big responsibility, even if they don’t know they’re taking on this task. The human’s first audio memories are stored in the limbic system, responsible for generating emotional responses, located adjacent to the auditory cortex in the temporal lobe. Any remembered sound therefore should automatically trigger an emotional response, however small, meaning that the parent’s provided sonic environment also has an impact on emotional development in the child (it’s thought that this is why music from adolescence, when emotion is at its most vibrant, generally triggers the strongest emotional response from its listeners).

I played Nate most of the songs referenced in Gabriele’s article and here are his two favorites:

The second one (Arp’s Pastoral Symphony) especially amazes him. When the bass kicks in around the 25 second mark, Nate’s eyes get real big, like something incredible is about to happen, and he studies my face for what that something might be. It would not be an exaggeration to say that music is becoming my version of breastfeeding. When Nate’s fussy or wants a change of pace, I usually pick up the ukulele or the guitar or the keyboard or some random percussive instrument (he’s got shakers, tambourines, bongos, etc.) and play Nate a tune. It’s like giving him Prozac in the key of C.

To the outside observer, it may appear that I am pulling an Earl Woods and that I desperately want my son to grow up to be a musician.

Could be. But I’ll settle for him just growing up to feel.

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