Saturday, 20 February 2010
All three of my children are massive fans of one of Dizzy Rascals most recent ditties, which I believe to be entitled 'Bonkers'. A great deal of their time is devoted to practising their mimicry of the computerised American voice that fires out 'Bonkers!' just before the slide guitar riff kicks in, and much leaping about ensues whenever the song comes on the radio. I wonder if it ever occurred to Mr Rascal that his song would be such a hit with small children.
Not since The Automatics 'Monster' (you remember... 'What's that coming over the hill is it a monster, is it a monster?') has a song enjoyed such popularity in our house, although the all time favourite probably still has to be 'I predict a riot' by The Kaiser Chiefs. In fact my favourite middle son quote of all time is his response to having being asked, aged three and a half, whether or not he liked music. The reply was: 'I like Baa baa black sheep, and Dict a riot!'
For me, watching my children dance is a real parenting high point. To see them so completely immersed in the present moment and so wonderfully free from any inhibition - their interpretation of the music always wild, unpredictable and energetic, is just fantastic. No awkward foot shuffling or wall flowering for them - these kids leap, twirl, and punch the air. They shout out the lyrics (or what they think might be the lyrics) to their favourite songs, and play crazy air guitar, enthusiastically using all the available space. Graceful it isn't. But it is pretty inspiring. Seeing them so utterly lacking in self consciousness always makes me think: When do we lose that? When did I lose that?
One of my favourite books in the whole world is by a woman named Lynda Barry, and is entitled One! Hundred! Demons! In it Barry confronts the demons of her childhood and adolescence by telling 20 short stories through the medium of cartoon drawings and an accompanying narrative so bittersweet, I defy anybody not to be made to both laugh and cry. The pictures she paints of her childhood, her family, and where she grew up are so vivid, you feel an almost instant recognition for them and the universal truths that she tells. She captures her childhood feelings of alienation and confusion so beautifully that you are almost right there with her.
The story I like best is about dancing. Barry describes how she grew up in a household where everybody danced, and how as a child she went devotedly to hula dancing lessons taught by a "middle aged white lady who was obsessed with Hawaii, and always wore a plastic orchid in her hair". It never occurs to the young Barry to feel self conscious untill an older girl whom she admires tells her that she dances like "a spaz". From that moment on she is crippled with awkwardness in any situation that involves dancing in front of other people. She has lost "her groove". At the end of the story there is a stunningly touching paragraph in which Barry states that it is babies and small children who are the "keepers of the groove", and that seeing them dance can always serve to remind us that "Any dancing is better than no dancing at all".
And so this morning when the radio began to blast out 'Bonkers' and that familiar slide guitar kicked in, and my youngest started jumping up and down shaking her head around manically and shouting, 'Look, I'm dancing with my hair!' I almost felt a lump in my throat. Because I don't ever want her to lose her groove. Ever.