Magic Dragons and Refusing to Grow Up

Today, Bean and I had some errands to run, and I chose the Pandora Station “Peter, Paul and Mommy” for our musical background. We sang along to Feed the Birds, from Mary Poppins, and some Simon & Garfunkel, a little John Denver, songs from The Sound of Music and we sang Puff the Magic Dragon (twice) and I cried. I have always cried every time I’ve heard that song, about the boy who grows up to no longer need his magical dragon or go on adventures with him, and the poor dragon just withers away. As a child, that song made me never want to grow up. How could anyone turn their hearts away from their dragon? How wrong is that?

This photo knocks my socks off completely. I showed it to Ben, and said that we need to build something like this. He said his welding skills are really rusty. That was something he was doing when he was five and six. Now, he’s ten, and he’s into other art. But I think we need to revive those skills, let me learn some too, and together we could build something like this. I want to so badly. I was bouncing up and down on my chair and pointing, and saying, “Come on, Ben, Please? Pretty Please?” like a dork. And he said, “That looks like an awesome addition to your hypothetical life.” Sweet – my hypothetical life. He said everyone has one. And I said that must be where all our hopes and dreams reside. And that, yes, this gorgeous dragon is a perfect addition to my hypothetical life.

Driving around today, while picking out a gift for a birthday party, and going through the hills and valleys around our house into town, and singing with Bean, I got really grateful for the home in which I grew up. There was always music playing. Dad thought we needed music during dinner to overshadow chewing sounds, but it meant we got to listen to his record collection. He had some great music.

I remember listening to Taj Mahal while we had friends over one night, and their little boy, who couldn’t even walk yet, was dancing his little heart out, holding onto our coffee table and absolutely getting lost in that beat. We danced until we couldn’t breathe to Burt Bacharach and the soundtrack to Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid. We jammed to the Dave Brubeck Quartet. We sang along to Tom Lehrer and all his craziness, The Carpenters, and John Denver with his grandma’s amazing feather bed.

We watched musicals like Fiddler on the Roof, The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins and My Fair Lady. I would float around and sing for days after any of these and drive my sisters crazy. I could hear the same songs over and over way more frequently than any of them.

My mom would tear up the piano sometimes and we would clear the room of coffee tables so we could dance along. Or she would clear the room of furniture and turn up the music and do some truly amazing modern dance with leaps and twirls and specific, technical moves that the rest of us didn’t know, but we knew she had a trophy from her dance days, and we would stand in awe of her. Our mother was a dancer, we would whisper together, and we felt like the children of royalty.

Dad and mom knew musicians who toured, and they would come to the house for dinner, and entertain us afterward. They would let us join in, anyone who was there, to sing or accompany any way we knew how. One time, there was a lady who taught Kindergarten, and in the middle of a jam evening, she asked if she could run to her car and bring in the Music Maker Box she kept for her students. All the adults, and all of us kids jumped at the chance, and we made the loudest music ever that night, with a rousing, completely raucous percussion section, full of laughing people acting like little, gleeful children.

There were also dinners that turned into Poetry Readings, with people flipping through books of classics to find their favorite to read aloud around the table, or perched all over the cushions and the arms and backs of couches in the living room. Our house was always full of people playing, and sharing and discussing and learning together. We read out loud, we sang, we danced, we read poetry.

It is true that music pulls up powerful memories. I am happy that I have this music in my memory-bank, and that Bean is learning to sing along with me. I know my kids are uninhibited enough to throw random dance parties in the kitchen with me, and that someday, while they are running errands with their kids, they will hear a song, and be flooded with good vibes and happy moments in time, just like I was today.

photo from here

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12 Comments Add yours

  1. skjam2013 says:

    Yep, that Puff song always tugged on my heartstrings too. I like to think my dragons are still well and free.

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    1. Liesl Garner says:

      My dragons are definitely well and free. I think they inhabit my children in a fierce and friendly, huggable way!

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  2. Oh what fabulous childhood memories! Makes me want to get up and dance and sing and laugh as well. I love Puff too, and I’m swooning at the photo. Such fun!

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    1. Liesl Garner says:

      Thank you. I love how fresh and close memories can feel when music or scent is involved.

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  3. what a wonderful story – I hope you and Bean make that dragon. What an insightful 10 year old – talking about the hypothetical life. wow! What fun to be had with someone of any age that thinks like that. I too grew up in a musical household, one of piano tuners and teachers. Of course, most of the music i listened to growing up was gospel, hymns and country. But, learning piano at an early age opened up a world of classical music – and remember – that was when cartoons used them. I was lucky to marry a man that really taught me about real jazz. As Nietzche said – without music life would be a mistake.
    I just wrote a blog about music and creativity too – so I enjoyed researching how music makes us feel.

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    1. Liesl Garner says:

      Oh – and I just read your article on Music. Fantastic. I love music flowing and creating memories or bringing old ones to the forefront of our minds! Love that Nietzche quote!

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  4. Amy Putkonen says:

    So sweet. I was just saying the other day that I want to watch My Fair Lady with my 14 year old daughter. It’s SUCH a great movie!

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    1. Liesl Garner says:

      Oh, absolutely! It is a perfect movie in so many ways.

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  5. Wow… You’ve painted a much different picture to family life than I had. Thank you. I love, love, love that picture of the dragon. My husband, handyman, has dragon as a power animal. And as a result we have dragon statues everywhere in our house. He would definitely want the one in the picture for sure. Music brings back the memory of my brother. We used to call him DJ Dan. He had thousands of songs in his IPod and instinctively knew which to play for the enjoyment of he crowd at the fire pit where we gathered. And now the song ‘over the rainbow’ is the song most associated with him. 🙂

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    1. Liesl Garner says:

      I wish I knew where that dragon is in the world. I found it on a Free Photo site, and it didn’t have a lot of notes as to where. But, how incredible, right? I want to get good at creative welding, so we can take on some projects like this!!

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  6. Your childhood sounds like it was awesome. I love all the music and play!

    I have a number of hypothetical dragons in my own life. But a friend of mine has them for real. He’s welded his own giant dragons and other sculptures, and they’re displayed out in his yard. Definitely swoon-worthy. 🙂

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    1. Liesl Garner says:

      That is so fun. I cannot wait until our welding skills are a match for our imaginations.

      Like

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