Bedtimes for Miles have become more time-consuming in recent months, as he finds more ways to push all the right buttons. “Please stay Daddy. I love you, and I miss you so much when you’re at work.” Cripes, what are you going to say to that? So I lie with him, tell another story… eventually try to leave the room and “the arm” reaches out, hooks me by the shoulder. “Please… please… stay.” Get firm about it and either he wails or gets up and walks into the living room. Bedtime has become a nightly two-hour ritual.
Then, last week, I brought a CD player into his room and put on Brian Eno’s “Thursday Afternoon.” Suddenly, things were different. He drifted off within minutes. Totally at peace with bedtime. Burned copies of Apollo, Compact Forest Proposal, and Plateaux of Mirrors for him (summary review). Not always perfect, but even when it doesn’t work, few things could compare to the absolutely peaceful feeling of napping at the end of a long day, listening to Eno by night-light with your three-year-old son’s arm wrapped around you.
Then, tonight, halfway through Apollo, he suddenly sat up and asked, “Daddy, what is this? Sad music for a doctor’s office?”
10 Replies to “Sleep Elixir Eno”
Back in 1995 or so, my roommate John had a kickass stereo system. So I shared it and had my speakers in my bedroom connected to his stereo.
One night we decided to put Eno’s “An Ending (Ascent)” from Apollo on endless repeat. We awoke with super-powers. John could lift 452x his own body weight, and I could see through time.
I’ve slept to Eno for years. :^)
There’s something about continuity of listening to the same CD again and again when I drift off that works well for me. In any other context I’d hate hearing the same music too much. But the same CD in the player by the bed for months at a time works great, and I start it again anytime I wake and go back to sleep to make for a more timeless sleep/wake pattern of continuity and familiarity. It’s wonderful for those sleep/wake/sleep-dream cycles in mid night or early morning.
I’d try Another Green World too. While it has vocals it’s pretty close to ambient and the vocal tracks tend to be soothing. Hillage’s Rainbow Dome Music might be another good one. I lean also to Klaus Schulze, Popol Vuh, Terry Riley and Tangerine Dream.
I think “Sad Music for a Doctor’s Office” is the title of an early Eno album, isn’t it?
I may have recommended this before, but Yo-Yo Ma’s “Cello Suites Inspired by Bach” was an incredible soother of both baby and parents when Clara was 1-2 years old. Clara has since tired of it, but I still adore this music. It’s deep, rich, works as ambient sound and yet is also incredibly moving if you listen closely to it. Nothing but Yo-Yo and his cello, too. Amazing the feelings that man can get out of his instrument. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0000029YB/102-5037168-7705765?v=glance&n=5174
Nathan’s somewhat similar these days. There’s a standard litany of questions at bedtime:
You close the door all the way? No, Nathan, I’ll leave it cracked.
You go in your office? Yes, I’ll be in my home office.
Mommy be downstairs? Yes, Mommy will be downstairs.
It’s a crap shoot whether or not he wakes up before I go to work, but he’s becoming more and more distraught if I go to work before he wakes up. This morning, he got up and got into bed with Jenni while I was in the shower – and was apparently crying because he thought Daddy had gone to “work office” without saying good bye.
Another Green World is one of my Top 10 Desert Island Discs. I bet he would enjoy that, maybe will try it tonight. Thanks for the other recommendations too, Mal and Dylan.
Jim, doesn’t that just melt your heart to be so wanted by a little one?
Funny aside: Yesterday I was painting closets all day. When he woke up from his nap, I had my iPod on. “Daddy, why are you wearing your iPod? I thought you only wear your iPod at work?” So it dawned on me for the first time – since he sees me leave the house every day with it on, and return home with it on again, he assumed that the iPod was work-related – something I wore all day on work days.
You play your son Sad Music for a Doctor’s Office at bedtime? Mean dad ;-)
The extended bedtime routine sounds very familiar. With Rowan, it lasted for years – in fact, now that she’s 10 she’s only in the last few months stopped finding more and more reasons to demand that extra ounce of attention at bedtimes, and even now she does it occasionally.
I’d been amazed that Lola was so easy to get to bed in comparison. Until the last month or so, that is. Normally she would ask to get to bed herself, and after her allotted two stories she would close her eyes and be asleep almost instantanously. Just recently though she’s started to push it, to be scared when I leave the room, to beg for “just one more poem, please”.
Gill doesn’t seem to get the same sort of stick when she takes the girls to bed, because they know that she’s not as soft a touch as me, and won’t under any circumstances sit with them for 2 hours reading story after story, as I foolishly do sometimes.
Rowan is 10 ??? !!! Wow. If you had asked me approximately when you posted videos of her dancing as a babe on antiweb, I would have guessed five years ago.
Soft touch: I think it’s harder not to be soft when you’re at work all day.
What kinds of poems do you read them?
I only I had the excuse of having been at work all day. As I work from home, work-time tends to disintegrate into family time once the kids get home. Still trying to figure out that work-life balance thing.
The videos you’re thinking of may be of Lola, don’t think I ever posted any of Rowan. The Lola vids were actually less than four years ago, here: http://www.sumption.org/life/20020514lolawalking/
Poems I read: we have various anthologies of kids poetry which I sometimes delve into. I *love* reading Edward Lear poems, but Lola isn’t into them perhaps because they’re in a battered old book with very few illustrations and none in colour. We’ve also got the complete poetry of Spike Milligan which I sometimes read from, although most of his stuff isn’t as good (and certainly not as good read aloud) as his few well-known poems. Recently I bought Brian Patten’s “Gargling with Jelly” which a girlfriend of mine used to own when I was about 20, and I have fond memories of, but which is a little more grown up than I’d remembered.
And when Lola was only one, we used to read to her nightly from a book called “The Nation’s Favourite Children’s Poems”, almost always ending up with Wynken, Blynken and Nod: favourhttp://users.sedona.net/~imboo/poetry/field1.html
Which reminds me, I used to like a bit of Ogden Nash too, especially Custard the Dragon, I ought to pull my Nash anthology down off the shelves tonight.
Ah, you’re right – it was Lola, not Rowan. Yep, them’s the vids I was thinking of. Thank goodness – thought time was a vacuum for a minute there. Oh, wait – it is.
Thanks a bunch for the poetry recs. Winken Blinken and Nod – I have wonderful childhood memories of that. Just printed it out to read tonight (though it lacks the great pictures of my childhood version).