My Sunshine

mags.jpgDifficult to tell for sure, but I think today’s the day it clicked for Maggie.

“Oh, that sound I keep hearing from the speakers is Daddy.”

Maggie’s a handfull. I mean, she’s actually quite fun: short on tears, long on giggles and squeals. But she’s super-curious and uber-wobbly. Maggie’s primary passtime is unloading her bookshelf one-by-one, then moving on to her toy basket. There are a thousand potential bumps and bruises in-between. So if she’s awake, she needs a spotter.

I was designated spotter all day; Abs was at work. Mags and I were winding down after dinner (rice cereal with pureed spinich, apples and pears). Frankly, I was running out of tricks. So I reached for my guitar.

Abbi and I are a) OCD and b) minimalist, so what’s left of my stuff is either under the bed or in my closet. My Martin’s been way in the back for months. I hauled it out a few weeks ago, though, to play for Maggie.

Tonight was just the second time (since the lights really flickered on behind her eyes, which took a few months) I played guitar for Maggie — something I did a few times a day for twenty years. I sat on the floor and began strumming. She crawled over, mouth agape,and paused. And then she did something unprecedented: she sat there motionless and listened. Her eyes darted from one hand to the other. I watched it all compute: one hand strums, the other forms the chord. She was mesmerized.

It didn’t last long, of course; she wanted to get involved. She stretched her arm towards the strings, and pressed down, and pulled herself to stand. I kept strumming, imagining that I was tactically improving her sense of rhythm. She looked puzzled, removed her fingers, screeched, and then moved further down the fretboard.

This lasted a while — me strumming, her muting — until I decided I needed to play more quietly, something soothing to prepare her for sleep. And so I began arpeggiating. And then I began singing, “You Are My Sunshine.” Which is when I saw it register. She tilted her head almost imperceptibly, and I swear I could see it click, “You’re the guy from that song!”

Of course, I recorded “Forever Young” for Maggie. I want her to love music, and by all accounts she seems to: every morning starts with a song (“Good morning to you!”), and every dinner ends with a dance party. And of course, I put the guitar down, walked to the stereo and played “You Are My Sunshine” to reinforce the connection. I picked her up, wrapped her fingers around my thumb, and began singing and swaying. She looked at me, looked at the speakers, and then looked back at me. Up until that moment, I wasn’t sure how quickly it would click. Now I know.

And now I know what I’m buying her for her birthday: her own guitar. (I just have to figure out what to do with the first drum set already waiting for her underneath the bed).

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