Song Of The Day 3/24/2017: The Modern Lovers – “Roadrunner”

The Final 6
Not the Columbia City Birth Center, but very similar
Both my sons are natives of Columbia City. In fact they were both born in the exact same room, just a bit more than four years apart.

I love the Columbia City Birth Center. I could spend all day there. It’s very quiet. Nobody there ever gets flustered. There aren’t any TVs. The tubs are gigantic. I never spent any time in them, but it’s nice to know I can be accommodated. And the sports bar is just half a block away. It’s a really nice one too!

Naturally my memory about both my sons’ births is a little hazy, because again there wasn’t anything terribly out of the way about them. For me. Kate might have been a little put out. But honestly, not very much.

Henry Declan Pearson was born January 25, 2008. “Henry” was so we could call him “Hank,” sort of a roundabout tribute to Rodeo Kill. “Declan” was after Elvis Costello’s birth name. I suppose we could have called him “Elvis,” but then he would have hated us for reasons that I find perfectly reasonable. I think he might have been born in the tub, but Kate would have to verify that.

John Stevland Pearson was born February 15, 2012. “John” was just because it was a normal name, and also so if we ever moved to Nashville we’d have two kids named Hank and Johnny. “Stevland” was after Stevie Wonder’s birth name. I have never been sure how to pronounce it. John was born at 1:52pm, which was interesting because I was born at 1:52am.

Hank and Johnny both remind me of me. I suppose that’s a little narcissistic but it’s really pretty eerie. They both hate being disappointed. Neither of them handle it very well. I’m much the same way. They’re a bit more verbal about it though. I just seethe for six years or so. John rebounds a little bit more quickly, or at least knows when he’s milked the pathos as much as he can.

Hank loves superheroes. He wants to be one. He probably will be once he learns all the codes and such. I wasn’t that much into superheroes; by the time I was his age music was it for me. I had a Captain Marvel phase but that’s about it. Hank’s got all the apostolic interest in it that I never had. He’s been running around with a light saber for four years. I’m gonna be sad the day he puts it away for good.

Superheroism is not just a sideline for Hank, or an outlet for his constant physicality. He’s actually just as interested in what the whole Marvel and DC universes mean. After seeing Thor he remarked that it was really about the relationship between two brothers. Once after reading up on Deadpool (not seeing the [very good] R-rated movie, the Blu-Ray copy of which we have hidden from him for the better part of a year), he asked Kate, “Mom… is Deadpool his own worst enemy?” That made me so happy. He’s getting the subtext.

Hank has a little bit of social anxiety; he’s not as immediately chatty as Lucie was or John is. But I found it telling that when King Dinosaur (another comics fan) came up to watch the Super Bowl a couple of years ago, Hank started talking to him about the Marvel universe, and the various traits of the superheroes and figurines he had. Kate and I both took notice of it. He doesn’t have a lot of patience for obvious boredoms, but when he finds someone on his wavelength he’s good to go for hours. Well, a lot of minutes.

John got all the comic timing. If anyone in this brood carries on the Pearson comedy tradition that my dad generated and tossed off onto me, hands down it’s going to be Johnny. He really appreciates the absurdity of over-repetition, the Andy Kaufman and David Letterman thing. It’s not observational humor but it’s hilarious. Not that I’m hoping for a glimpse of Mort Sahl type humor out of a five-year-old kid. Development-wise, humor-wise, he’s probably right on schedule.

Both of them got the good cartoons. I was raised on watching a none-too-bright coyote die a thousands deaths at the hands of a monosyllabic bird and the Acme Company. Which was great in its day. But it’s interesting that animators of my time went for the physical, gore-free violence to get a rise out of kids, whereas Hank and Johnny get more cerebral things like Phineas & Ferb (which I love) and something called Gravity Falls (which I haven’t sat through but have been assured I would like a lot).

I can’t assess my own parenting skills. Kate’s are great, but I don’t know where mine fall on the scale. Probably about in the middle. Maybe a little better than average. Mainly I’ve let them develop their own interests and activities, which sometimes puts us all in silos in one small house. I’m not forcing anything down their throats. I just want them all to read. I don’t really care what they read. When I was their ages I had to read these monochrome religious books that couldn’t have had less to do with my interests, and I’m sometimes afraid my negative association with that kind of material might have trickled down into my adult reading habits. There have been times when I’ve gone months and months without reading a book. That’s a little weird for someone who’s a writer, but I’m catching up.

Anyway, bottom line, kids are great. I have three very different ones. Maybe they’ll be more similar when they get older. I think we’re all supposed to do that. But the variety’s great. Get yourself some today!

I’m putting the Modern Lovers’ “Roadrunner” up today because that’s one of the first songs Lucie actually learned, when she was two. She used to sing it while I played the chords on the piano. She hadn’t even seen a Stop & Shop. Never mind the radio.

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