The good nights, when we are all at home and nobody is having a tantrum, consist of stories, laughing, tickling, Big Huge Snuggles, conversations about distant planets, and music.
Parenting is like this: it’s my job to get teeth brushed and pajamas arranged on bodies with minimal fuss. It’s M’s job to invite eruptions of giggles. Then it’s my job to calm things down and direct boys into their respective beds. Then it’s M’s job to play music for the ones who encounter rocky paths on the way to sleep. It’s my job to sit downstairs on the couch and sip a glass of wine or tea, depending on the day behind me, and read and notice occasionally the lilt of music slipping through the floor vents and down the stairs.
M is not an accomplished guitar player. He’s only had a guitar for a few years, and he doesn’t take lessons, and he rarely gets more than a half hour of playing any given day. But he’s got a feel for it, and can make up melodies that make me smile. His playing is sweet and full of pauses and sudden swoops of confidence. His playing is a wonderful model for boys – even if you don’t know how, pluck away until something beautiful happens. But mostly his playing is evidence of his sweet side, the side he might forget about after a long day of dealing with IT questions. Listening to him is a nightly gift, a reminder. Of what? Well. Of how lucky I am to sit on a couch with a good book and a glass of something rewarding and the sound of a good man playing music in a farther room. Which is also the sound, as it happens, of children falling asleep. An added bonus.