Last night, around 8:45 PM, I crashed. My day had consisted of work, the commute home, a simple dinner, clean up, two rounds of “Hip-Hop Dance Party” with my son, and then collapsing on the couch.
The aforementioned child, meanwhile, was still going strong. He had played a total of nine rounds of the same game and was still spinning and doing his own personal version of breakdancing. When he got bored with that, he swooped into the next room to play Nerf basketball. This was after a full day of school, an hour of running around at aftercare, homework, studying, and various other activities.
Eight years old. 9:00 PM. Raring to go. His parents told him it was time for bed, and he dragged us upstairs and put us to sleep.
Two years ago, the whirling dervish who is my child became enamored with today’s song. Part of his affection for this piece is related to the initial reactions of his parents to it. The first time we all heard it, it was playing loudly on the radio at the end of Thanksgiving. I looked at my husband with weary eyes and said, “This is not relaxing holiday music.”
“I know,” he answered. “This sounds like something that should be playing while you’re dodging sniper fire.”
Immediately our son burst out laughing. This led to all of us posing increasingly outlandish scenarios set to the background of “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo”—dogs leaping over piles of rubble, babies parachuting from planes, old men catching one another as they jumped from burning buildings.
And the song was, begrudgingly by some and lovingly by one, adopted as a holiday family favorite.
Last week, my husband called me while I was at work. It was around 4:00 PM. I asked how his day was and how our son was doing. “He’s on the couch taking a nap,” was the response. “He said he had a headache.” I immediately knew I would be home from work the next day to take care of him, because he was getting sick. The only time the tempo slows, the volume lowers, the energy dwindles is when my son is not feeling well. Mercifully, those times are rare.
This song captures something internal about my little guy and his character since he was born—filled with manic energy, experiencing life with intensity, interpreting his world in a unique and imaginative way. At times he overwhelms me, like last night, when all I wanted was to rest quietly and all he wanted was for me to set up his LEGO Website account, help him write notes to MistleJoe the Elf, watch the new dance he created to “Sexy and I Know It,” and quiz him for his upcoming Social Studies test. All within 15 minutes.
But while he was sleeping on the couch last week, not himself, all I could think was how wrong things were. Even if my internal holiday radio is generally set to Johnny Mathis or Annie Lennox, I’ve gotten used to our external Christmas life being set to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
And I really wouldn’t want it any other way.