Raise your hand if you ever swore you’d never be like your parents….wait!, don’t put your hand down yet, I have a few thousand to count.

Photo by sean dreilinger

Photo by sean dreilinger

Here’s the catch for me: in order to teach my children about the old country, I sort of have to be like my parents. And how do I do that?

  • Speaking Spanish
  • Pointing at things with my lips
  • Flailing my arm to create inertia that makes my thumb and my index finger make a snapping sound to indicate that there is trouble
  • Neglecting to tame my uni-brow
  • Going around the house turning off the lights
  • Listening to music that deals with the following topics:
    • life in the farm
    • the drama and dishonor that is the loss of a young girl’s purity
    • duels between the town’s tough guy and the aforementioned young girl’s secret lover
    • Drunkenness
    • the beach, the mountains, or beaches next to mountains

The subject of music is what makes the still latent but frustrated young metal-head in me feel defeated. And you know why? Because I actually like that old music from the old country and as it turns out, so does my All-American-Minnesotan wife and our two boys. And now that my mother is staying with us to help us with Samuel (our 4-month old), playing those cheesy tunes of injustice, betrayal, despondence, and vengeance livens up our lovely home during the harsh Minnesota winter.

Last night, while I was gently rocking Samuel in my arms to help him fall asleep, I had Pandora playing on my iPhone in the living room, set to a station that played just such music, and it took me a few minutes to realize that I had been inadvertently (but very enthusiastically) singing and dancing along to all those songs. And when I looked at myself in the mirror what did I see in my own, contented face? The black haired, squinty-eyed, thick-browed, 5-o’clock-shadowed face of my mother (yes, she is a beautiful Latin grandma who suffers, due to whatever percentage of Spanish blood we have, from what Jeffrey Eugenides called the “Hair Belt“).

We were all rocking out to the music that my mother has loved all her life and that I have despised for most of mine.

And my son Gabriel? He was busy doing puzzles and playing with trucks, and occasionally picking up words and chants from the music that he would then repeat out loud to me. And that is the biggest reward of all. Not only is there such communion among us through the enjoyment of my mother’s favorite music, but in that process, my sons are learning and living Spanish language, culture, dance, and I’m sure getting vibes of other, less tangible things like love and happiness.

I’m so old. But that’s OK.

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