As my girls prepare for an upcoming trip to Disney World,
K has reminded me to pack her favorite CDs for the car. One album that both girls clamor for is Same
Same by Chuck Kent. The songs are
written for children who have been adopted, but even my biological child loves
the lyrics and belts out the tunes.
The song they keep singing right now is Chuck Kent’s Mama
Always Comes Back, because they will be spending five days in Florida with
just their grandparents. The words,
both reassuring and funny, give them a chance to explore their feelings about
saying goodbye to me.
“You’re gonna have to let go
Let go of my leg
And besides there’s really no reason to moan and beg
Cause Mama always comes back
Mama always comes back
If I go around the block around town around the world
Mama always comes back”
I feel a closeness with my daughters when we listen to music
together. After all, music has always
provided me with a way to get in touch with my own feelings. There are some songs that elicit a
striking physiological response in me within minutes of hearing the opening
chords. When certain cheesy 80’s songs
come on the radio, I feel a wave of nostalgia that brings me squarely back to
the days of my first crush, how all consuming and powerful it felt to be a
seventh grader in so-called love.
If I listen to Rufus Wainwright’s Hallelujah, I
remember our memorial service for baby Matthew, and the grief wells up as a
physical pain in my chest. It is a song
that I can only listen to once in a while, always when I am painting, alone in
a room with the heady scent of oil paints and turpentine to dull the memories.
“Maybe I’ve been here before
I know this room
I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken hallelujah”
And then there is Chuck Kent’s ballad about adoption, Tell
Me The Story Again, that fills me with brimming joy, such that I cannot
stop smiling and weeping at the same time, as I recall dancing around the
kitchen in our old condo with baby K finally in our arms. We call that song “K’s song”, and when she
and I listen to it together, a surge of feelings passes between us and allows
us to communicate beyond a conversational level for a six-year-old.
“Won’t you tell me the story again
Tell me all about the time when
You didn’t have kids
But you prayed and you hoped
How you waited and waited and watched the years go
Then decided to see
If someone like me
Wanted a family too
Won’t you tell me
Tell me the story again
Won’t you tell me how happy you were
The very first time that you heard
A child was waiting
A child just for you
How it suddenly seemed all too good to be true,
How you cried when you called all our family and friends
To let them know I’d soon be here
Won’t you tell me
Tell me the story again”
Music and drawing have become an important part of K’s
repertoire for communicating her feelings.
A kindergartener, K often lacks the developmental and cognitive
sophistication to explain her feelings, but she still knows that those feelings
exist. Lately, K has been asking to
hear the Chuck Kent music frequently.
It is obviously tapping into something within her, and she finds it
enjoyable to sing these particular songs.
There is an actual song on the Chuck Kent CD called Same
Same, which points out many of the ways that adopted children are the same as
their parents. It is a fun, catchy
song, and my girls like to play a game where they name ways in which we are all
Recently, I was driving K home from swim class, and I
pointed out that we were both wearing our hair in braids.
“See, K,” I said.
“We both have braids today. We
are the same!”
She offered a new twist on the game.
Cheerfully, she replied in a rush of words, “Yes, but our
hair is different colors. And so are
our eyes. And I wear glasses and you
don’t, and I’m adopted and you aren’t.
You don’t like olives and I do and you have curly hair and I have straight
hair. You get to stay up late and I
have to go to bed early, and you hate mayonnaise but I like it, and you get to
use the computer all the time and I don’t, and you like chocolate ice cream but
I like strawberry.”
She paused to catch her breath and continued, “But we have
the same puffy jackets and the same love and the same family and both our names
end in the letters i-e.”
She looked up at me through the rearview mirror. “Can we hear the Same Same CD?” she asked.
I definitely will be packing that one for my parents to play
while they are with the girls, if for no other reason than to provide them with
a chance to participate in these memorable conversations.
And while we are on a quick trip, far from the girls, I can arrange a time to listen to the same songs as K and AR, at the same time, so that we are connected across the ocean in our hearts. And we will probably have some of the same feelings, love and sadness, longing and happiness.