My elder six year-old son, L, is growing like a weed. These days, I’m frequently gob-smacked by how tall and big he is. Not only that, but L is genuinely developing into a small man.
He picks up dead bugs around the house, while calming his hysterical mother who always somehow finds a table to climb onto when these creepy crawlies are about. He helps me rake leaves in the backyard and never fails to demand fair compensation for services rendered. He is capable of holding a serious conversation with me about any number of topics (especially ones involving small ninja figurines), but mature beyond his age not to embarrass me when I can’t answer his probing questions or match his counter-arguments.
The transformation naturally leads me to reminisce about the days when he was small enough for me to cradle and babyish enough for me to cuddle. Unfortunately, it also brings back memories of some of worst times of parenthood, when L struggled with sleeping. You see, for the first two or so years of his life, L would wake up at least 6-8 times a night, unable to settle himself back to nap, and completely drive my wife and I to the very brink of insanity. It didn’t help that L had an eczema problem which made him scratch furiously on most nights and scream from fatigue on most days.
It got so bad at one stage that, during my darkest hours, I actually questioned the whole concept of parenthood and whether I was cut out for the responsibility. It was the only period in my adult life when I actually looked forward to going to work in the morning, just so that I can catch some zzz’s (in group meetings, sitting on the toilet, even while talking on the phone). Needless to say, it was also during this time that I began pounding the pavement in earnest!
Amidst that chaos at the time, there was one person who could always put L to sleep (even if temporarily) and put us out of our misery – Jack Johnson. No, not the lengendary boxer from the early 1900s who put people to sleep with his fistic prowess, but the surfer/singer from our era who does it with his musical talent.
We relied so much on his Bushfire Fairtale CD to lull L into a much-needed shut-eye in those years. Not only that, but I’m sure the soothing tunes also saved my wife and I from many cat-fights that we would have gladly had, given our constantly agitated state due to sleep deprivation.
While my four year-old younger son, C, was nowhere near as bad with his naps, we are still grateful for Jack Johnson’s On & On and In Between Dreams CDs for the many times that they helped C to settle during his baby years.
The boys have now largely grown out of any sleep problems, as well as Jack Johnson music. Nevertheless, even now, whenever I hear a JJ tune on the radio while driving or on the iPod while running, I think back to those early testing years of parenthood. I think of how I managed to somehow get through that period, with my calm and laid-back personality mostly intact. And I think of how it was made possible, even if only in small part, by a singer/surfer whose songs are the very embodiment of calm and laid-back.
Keep on pounding.
PS: The views expressed above are entirely my own and I have, unfortunately, no commercial interests in any of Jack Johnson’s business enterprises. In fact, Jack Johnson wouldn’t know me from a bar of soap! However, Jack, if you are reading this and want to say thanks by inviting me to Hawaii and teaching me some moves on the waves, I certainly wouldn’t say no!