34/52: The Son Also Rises

September 13, 2014

One of the things that I feel the most hypothetical guilt about is how Elliot will feel about being the second child. Right now, our mantle is Elliot free. The record of “firsts” is spare or spongy. The blog posts about him have been fewer than his sister. However, the thing I’ve struggled with the most is the discrepancy in songs.

When Alice was about eight months old, I had my students participate in a 30-day project where they did something for an entire month. Read a chapter of the Bible each day. Go without a cell phone. Become a vegan. Bake 30 cakes. It turned out to be a fairly fascinating project, but I now realize that it may have just been a subconscious way to motivate me into an extra gear of fatherhood. Wanting to model the assignment for my students, I ended up churning out 30 songs, some good, some cringe-worthy. A month or so later, Sara secretly copied the songs, and with the help of my sister-in-law, turned them into a book which now sits on one of Alice’s shelves.

Although I’ve written a few songs for Elliot, my soul is often gnawed by the discrepancy. I actually try to imagine the talk that Elliot and I will have someday about this topic, how I will try to explain to him that those songs about his sister were also just about the experience of being a first-time parent. That those emotions had been living inside me for over 30 years, just waiting to crawl out and see the light of day. I also imagine how brittle these words will feel coming out. That even though they are true, they may not be completely understood until he has two kids of his own, which could be never.

So this morning, I was delighted when I got the opportunity to write a song about my boy. And the best thing was, we wrote it together.

This morning, before the girls woke up, I had a few hours with Elliot. The moment seemed right for music. In spite of my aforementioned guilt, I hadn’t even thought about writing a song in awhile. When I picked up my guitar, I was a defeated songwriter, just ready to play a few familiar tunes. But when I started to play, Elliot ambled over and started to strum with me.

This wasn’t a big surprise, because Elliot has always been fascinated by my guitar and ukulele. Although Alice showed instrument interest, she didn’t effuse like her brother now does. His joy must have stirred something inside me, because I had the idea to write a song with him.

Since I am super limited with a guitar, I just started fingering the key of G, which is one of the few I can play comfortably. The main thing that I needed was a rhythm. So I just waited for Elliot’s tiny fingers to strum a few times and get me started. So here’s our first song as a father-son duo:

He woke up crying one Saturday morning
Far ahead of the sun, right after the moon
Tried to turn his mourning into music
Had to find the words and the start of a tune

My boy, my boy, my boy is a shiny new penny
A bullet shot right out of a gun
A hailstone bouncing off of a rooftop
And every morning he’s a rising son

Took out a guitar and started strumming
Suddenly my boy was playing along
I gave him the chords, he supplied the rhythm
Next thing you know we’d written a song

My boy, my boy, my boy is a shiny new penny
A bullet shot right out of a gun
A hailstone bouncing off of a rooftop
And every morning he’s a rising son


2 Responses to “34/52: The Son Also Rises”

  1. George Says:

    Hope there is a recording of that in our future. I want to hear what rhythm Elliot was strumming on the guitar. Love it,

  2. Mom Says:

    I agree with George! We want to hear the special song :-)

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