Musical Flashback: Parents Just Don’t Understand

Driving to pick up Ethan tonight, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince’s “Parents Just Don’t Understand” came on the radio.

Instantly transported back in time, before I knew about the drinking and when things were okay between us. We were on long drive back to St. Louis after a weekend trip to visit family. I was driving, Mike in the passenger seat. I remember it was quiet in the car so Ethan must have been sleeping. (We hadn’t even dreamed of Lauren yet.)

This song came on and we both started singing along. Seat-dancing. Laughing. Shrugging our shoulders while belting out the chorus, “Take it from me, parents just don’t understand…”

As the song was coming to an end, Mike turned to me, smile gone from his face. A look of seriousness. “Shit,” he said. “WE are the parents now. Do we really not understand? ‘Cause I’d be pissed if Ethan took my cool car. And he’s going to wear whatever we buy for him – cool clothes or not!”

“Yep,” I said. “You just don’t understand…”

And then we laughed and laughed and laughed.

Musical Flashback: It Had to Be You

One of my favorite memories of my 16 years with Mike happened during our wedding: our first dance.

Mike was one of the world’s worst dancers. So bad, that he embraced his dance floor awkwardness with complete zeal. He loved being a bad dancer. Mike had zero rhythm. But he liked making people smile by so thoroughly enjoying himself…

But I wanted OUR first dance to be something amazing. Something people would remember. So I signed us up for private dance lessons. Twice a week for almost six months we drove more than 30 minutes to a dance studio in one of the suburbs. It was quite a financial splurge for a couple just starting out.

I don’t remember our instructor’s name – I don’t remember much of anything about the instructor. But I remember the lessons.

The feeling of being in Mike’s arms. Of him twirling me around. Of spinning. Of our hands intertwined. Of looking in his eyes. Of fighting against him – each of us trying to lead… (I’m not a good follower, not even on the dance floor!)

It was time for us. Just us. Two hours a week, just me and Mike. It was lovely.

The instructor choreographed our entire first song. It was a combination of classic steps and a dance that was all our own. It was perfect.

The night of our wedding reception, the DJ called us to the floor and the song started. We reached for each others’ hands and… “Smile,” I whispered. “I love you.”

The dance was perfect. Shear perfection. I remember looking out into the crowd and seeing the faces of our loved ones. People were smiling, clapping, cheering us on. No one knew we took lessons, and Mike’s staying in step was a complete surprise to everyone. We received several compliments that night. People who knew Mike (and his bad-dancing prowess) were in awe at his moves that night – well, at least during our first song. 🙂

The song was Harry Connick Jr.’s “It Had to Be You” from When Harry Met Sally. I keep the song on my iPod, and when shuffle decides to play it, I listen to it all the way through. Reliving that night, that song, that dance. It’s kind of nice to remember the good.

Musical Flashback: Silly Little Love Songs

Driving to Target today, the Paul McCartney / Wings song “Silly Little Love Songs” shuffled to the speakers from my iPhone.

It was the song Mike would sing after Lauren was born. I remember him singing it (accompanied by Ethan) to Lauren while I was giving her a bath. Night after night, for months.

They sang it dramatically. They sang it humorously. They sang it seriously. They sang it together to Lauren. It became a nightly ritual.

It was just about the time I realized Mike had a drinking problem. Still, it’s a happy memory because Mike seemed (somewhat) in control. He was still (somewhat) involved with the kids at that point.

The song would make Lauren smile and giggle. It made Ethan happy. It brought a sense of “things will be okay” to me.

Mike stopped singing the song around Christmas 2010. I don’t think I’ve heard it since.

I listened to it today, and it made me feel nostalgic. I didn’t cry but felt a sense of peace. Someday I will play the song for Ethan and ask if he remembers. Someday I will play it for Lauren and tell her that her daddy used to sing it to her when she was a baby. I hope they remember.