Music Soothes the Hyperactive Beast
I can remember a few things before turning four years of age, but the age of four marks the time when my memories become consistent. My family and I were living in Cairo, Georgia, at the time. Despite being home of the W.B. Roddenberry Company, Cairo is likely a town of which you have never heard. (Sadly, another company bought Roddenberry out solely for their name and shut the operation in Cairo down in 2002.) Cairo is also the home of the color-barrier-breaking, baseball-great, Jackie Robinson. Named for the city in Egypt, the Southern drawl ensures that the pronunciation of Cairo alters the “kī” sound to “kā.” It is the county seat of Grady County and borders the state of Florida. (Tallahassee is less than 40 miles away from Cairo.) Only about 1,000 more people are living there today than when I lived there in the late 1970s.
I called myself a free-range child in my previous post. Lest I give the impression my parents did not discipline me, I will clarify that by saying “free-range,” I was allowed to play without a helicopter-parent hovering over me continuously. Parents used to allow their kids to get cuts and bruises as a part of their exploration of the world. No, they did not want us to hurt ourselves; instead, parents of previous generations seemed to understand you could not shield children with bubble wrap. Hence, you kept antiseptics and bandaids on hand for the inevitable. I was also typically barefooted. I don’t even think I wore shoes except when going out somewhere. I was very hyper. I did not sit. You might have asked me to take a seat, but I was guaranteed to fidget. (We didn’t have fidget spinners then.) At church, I ended up laying down beside my mom on the pew or upon the floor under the pew where she could see me. (There was a kindly older couple who would slip candy into my hand when I laid under their pew.)
Thus, when I was home, there was always the quandary of what to do with such a hyperactive beast. To be sure, there were hours of play. However, my mom also read to me or encouraged me to look at those books she read. (As an aside, I admit to looking at the medical encyclopedia quite a bit as well. I seemed enamored with an illustration of a boy with a megacolon. Did I have foresight into what gastrointestinal woes were awaiting me later in life?) I was prohibited from watching television except for public television programs like Mr. Rogers, Sesame Street, and Electric Company. Mom could do so without reservation because I was being taught my numbers and ABCs, not about why my friend has two fathers, as Sesame Street would rather do today. (Lest I am called a homophobe, my point is that educational shows today seem to care little about the three “r”s and more about social justice. Thus, there is this attitude that society doesn’t care if children remain ignorant as long as they have the “proper” feelings about the social cause du jour. Showing compassion and understanding is excellent, but it should not come at the expense of being able to read at one’s age level.)
Lastly, our record player and many records acquired through thrift was mom’s tool to combat my hyperactivity. Since the bargain barrel records covered the gambit of musical genres, I listened to everything from Homer and Jethro to The Surfaris. And, of course, I moved my body to the music, discharging the dynamo inside me. As a side effect of my childhood, I tend to listen to an eclectic mix of music today as well. (My favorite radio stations tend to be those taking on a man’s name, such as “Bob” or “Chuck,” and play music from the 1950s through the early 2000s.) The odd thing is that my mother is not much of a “music person.” She listens to talk radio and has performers to whom she will listen on occasion. Overall, though, my mom says that she cannot just listen to music for hours on end. She calls such “noise.” My siblings and I, however, all tend to listen to a lot of music. We have told her that she is the one to blame for our interest.
William Congreve famously said, “Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.” People misunderstood Congreve’s words when read aloud and created the mondegreen of “music soothes the savage beast” or “music tames the savage beast.” Even if resulting from a misunderstanding, one veterinarian has proven that music, indeed, benefits animals by calming them. To this group of beasts, my mom would add that it can soothe or tame even the hyperactive beasts of the world. Yes, it was one of her tools to keep me in line as she and father reared me.
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Hi, my name is Brent. Christian. 親日. ENFP. Music lover. I've channeled my ADHD into becoming a generalist. I enjoy writing and illustrating.