On a recent weeknight, I was sitting at my computer, and Blue was sitting in the dining room, which he has claimed as his personal office. The table is perpetually covered with ACT study materials, a gargantuan U.S. history book, a laptop, and his various drinks and snacks. There’s an open layout in this part of the house, so I can turn my head while sitting at my desk and see him holding court about 30 feet away. Often, we find ourselves sitting in our respective workspaces at the same time doing our respective work. He might listen to a show on his laptop and I might ask him to turn it down. I might listen to a podcast very, very low so it doesn’t disturb his outline making. At some point, I become overwhelmed with exhaustion or sick of the screen, and pack it in hours before he does. On the recent aforementioned night, as I was busily responding to emails, I suddenly heard a familiar guitar lick followed by the lyrics of Crosby, Stills & Nash’s “Dark Star” pouring out of the dining room. This is, like, one of my all-time favorite songs, and not what Blue’s laptop speakers typically put out. Can you say Young Thug? Chance the Rapper? Travis Scott? He loves to play rap for me. “I think you’ll like this one, Mom,” and I like it enough, but it doesn’t have the history or tweak my heart the way CS&N does. I grew up listening to those songs. I grew up listening to my dad listen to those songs. They’re part of my bloodstream. But I lost control of all music playing devices around my kids years ago. I suppose it’s one of the sacrifices mothers make, but I make this one bitterly, and sometimes, I simply can’t take another Kendrick Lamar song (no offense, I like “Humble” very much). When “Dark Star” ended, the next thing I heard was “U.S. Blues” by the Grateful Dead. What was happening? It wasn’t my birthday. Blue informed me that he was going through a classic rock phase. How nice! But these weren’t just any rock songs. They were the ones closest to me, the ones he likely hadn’t heard since he was a little boy in the back of my Subaru wagon when we used to road trip and take turns picking songs on my iPod. I asked Blue if these songs were randomly playing on a classic rock station. No, he said, he was choosing them. He had listened. He remembered. It kept coming. Fleetwood Mac. Neil Young. I sang and sang and found things to keep me at the computer, hoping this impromptu concert would never end. With less than a year and a half before Blue leaves for college, I’m always trying to think about ways we can spend time together outside of our daily routine. I never even considered that we could make the daily moments stand out; apparently, Blue did. I Decided it’s time for me to get to know Big Sean a little better, so I can surprise him when I feel a rap phase coming on.
Liz Kingsley lives in Westfield with her girlfriend and their five children. During the day, she teaches Special Education and Basic Skills at a local elementary school, writes poetry and columns about her family, and directs The Writers Studio. At night, she collapses from exhaustion.
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