Here is a tale from my childhood that I’ve never been able to forget. Mostly because my family thinks it’s hilarious and they like to tease me about it.
Alrighty, it all started 21 years ago, the summer I was four years old. (Summer of ’89.)
This is me in June of 1989.
My sister, Kristen, my brother, Jordan, and I were all outside running through the sprinkler in our front yard. (And on a side note, isn’t it crazy how much more active we are for fun as kids than as adults?)
I had just learned how to do a cartwheel over the sprinkler that summer, and I hadn’t shown Kristen or Jordan that I could do this. I was really excited to show them and kept asking for them to watch me, but, as older siblings sometimes do, they ignored me. Repeatedly.
One thing to note, before moving on in the story, is that I sing. ALL the time. I always have. My mom said I sang before I spoke as a baby. I don’t even realize I’m doing it. Tom sometimes points it out to me because he thinks it’s funny (you do find it funny, right, Tom? you don’t find it…annoying…do you?). I just sing constantly. Sometimes I’ll start a sentence in speech and end it in song. And I come by this honestly. My parents would make up and sing little songs to us and about us all the time growing up. My family is just like that. But I think I’m the most like that. Always singing.
Okay, so what do you think I did when I got sad? I went and sat down on the retaining wall for the front yard, and I sang to myself. I was feeling sad, so I was singing a dirge-like chorus of “la-la-la.” (I didn’t know a lot of songs at four years old, so my songs were usually made up and often consisted of “la-la”s.) Well, this finally got Kristen and Jordan’s attention.
Kristen came over and sat beside me. She said, “What are you doing?” I replied, “I’m sad, ‘cuz I’m singing a sad, sad song.” (Apparently, I didn’t quite understand cause and effect back then, or I’d have gotten that the other way around.) When Kristen heard this response, she did what most of you would have wanted to do. She burst into laughter, and then she went off to tell my brother so that he could laugh with her.
This was not the response I was going for. My little four-year-old heart was broken; I jumped up, ran inside crying, and went to my room to play alone.
That yields absolutely NO sympathy for the sad, dejected four-year-old. Not in my family. It yields a life-time supply of laughter and teasing. Which I can handle, having grown a thicker skin since the age of four. I kind of had to, especially in relation to that story, because any time I would be upset about something or look sad, any given sibling or parent might ask, “Are you singing a sad, sad song?”
After this happened one night in high school in front of Tom, he obviously wanted to hear the story. So he did. And, OH, did he laugh. And then he told Ben, his brother. And if you’ve read this, you know that he loves to give me a hard time. Anytime we would all have the same study hall, if I looked bored or was concentrating on something with a frown on my face (most likely AP Calculus; I hate math), I would hear a round of “la-la-la”s softly being sung across the room. I’d snap my head up and see one or both of those two trying not to burst into laughter and get demerits for disrupting study hall.
So why bring it up now? Well, I recently bought the latest Lady Antebellum album on iTunes. And it has a song on there called Love This Pain. In the bridge, Charles Kelly sings:
It’s like I love this life
When nothing’s right, yeah something’s wrong
It’s like I’m just not me
If I can’t be a sad, sad song
The first time I heard the song, I thought, “WHAT did he just say?!” The second time I listened to it, I knew I’d heard correctly. And I knew, for once, that I was NOT the only person who gets it. Thank you, Lady Antebellum, for understanding me. Though, to be fair, I don’t think this song is supposed to make me laugh, but that line does. Every time. Just because of my own take on it.