As Iris and Robyn get more musical, I have been trying to expose them to more of my tastes. The other day, I was playing U2 when the song “All I Want Is You” came on. This was a key part of my repertoire when I used to sing to Iris as a toddler. In fact, it was (along Elton John’s “Your Song” and REM’s “Fall on Me”) the first mainstream song where I taught her the words. I was convinced she’d remember all the sing-alongs we had and how she learned the lyrics. We could even “get the band back together” and put on a show for Robyn, just like the old days (when Robyn was a newborn). I started to sing the first verse and looked at her with a big smile as I did it. She looked back and smiled, but more because of my goofy face than any private moment we once shared. I started feeling the way I do when I greet someone as an old friend and they don’t know who the hell I am.
“Iris, don’t you remember this song?”
“I don’t think so.”
“We used to sing it together all the time.”
Like a slug to my chest, this incredible memory was damaged. It didn’t mean the same to her that it did to me. Why did I do it? What else doesn’t she remember? I spent those countless hours with her and it’s as if they never happened. I assumed she was going to tell the story about our sing-alongs as part of her valedictory speech or her first State of the Union. It was so clear. “I owe my success and my life to my father’s inexorable attempts to hit Bono’s high notes when I was three.” But it has only been five years and she has already forgotten. Now honestly, I shouldn’t be mad. How many of us have memories that go back to being a toddler? I moved to New Jersey from New York City when I turned four and I have incredibly few memories of New York. But this we different. We really bonded! Back then, I was constantly told that every interaction with your child is so important. “Don’t let those days go by,” the experts kept telling me. Now I realized I could’ve mailed in those first few years…
But then it hits me. Everything leads up to this moment. Each new experiences as father and daughter build upon the experiences we’ve had in the past. Having her fall asleep on my shoulder as an infant allows for toddler sing-alongs and school plays, which make way for Daddy-Daughter trips to Fry’s and basketball shoot-arounds as an elementary school and whatever comes next. As for those early memories, they weren’t for her, they were for me. It’s been non-stop memories for me since the day we brought her home and I wouldn’t give any of them up. And now, I can feel confident that she will share in the memories we create today with me. And because of my willingness to spend the time with her, today’s memories today will be so much richer. And it’ll be me watching Iris’ State of the Union from my living room, reminding Cherise “you know, this all happened because I went after those high notes in ‘All I Want Is You’.”…
This epiphany happens in about three minutes. As the song finishes up, I snap back to reality. I look at her and now she has a goofy smile for me.
“Daddy, that was a beautiful song. Will you teach it to me?”
That’ll do, Iris. That’ll do.