We all have certain musical tastes that inherently change over the course of our lives. For example, even though there was a time that I loved a boy band literally called, “The Boys”, that is no longer my music of choice. Eddie’s musical palate has changed more in his eight years than mine has in my thirty-three. As an early lover of music, he was an extremely picky newborn, and continues to be picky to this day.
As a baby, we had a CD player inside his crib to help soothe him. If you’ve ever lived with a newborn, you know that you will search far and wide for whatever the magical remedy is for sleep and lots of it. We found out when Eddie was only four months old that he was in love with Norah Jones.
I did get a Norah Jones CD when I was pregnant as a gift, and continued to listen to it daily throughout my pregnancy with Eddie. Whatever the reason for his infatuation, he was entirely devoted to her music. Unlike any other performer, we could put her music on and he would instantly quiet, and within a few tracks, would often fall asleep. She was the glue that held together the first year of his life.
Following Norah, Eddie went through a stage where he wanted to be rocked and sung to instead of listening to a CD independently. The songs that got us through his second year of life included “American Pie” and “Hey Jude.” Those songs still help out in a pinch when he needs soothing. I simply change the lyrics to “Hey Eddie” and improvise from there. That alone has dried up many tears.
As he got older, and as friends and family learned he was blind, he was given music all the time for holidays. It seemed that many assumed he liked music, and they were right for the most part. Not all lyricists sung to his heart like Norah, but many found a permanent place in our home.
From the Beatles…to Michael Jackson…to Taylor Swift…to Queen…and even to Barney and The Wiggles, once Eddie found some music he loved, he listened to it continually until over-done and then cast aside. We always had to be careful, because he also repeated the lyrics verbatim. I remember hearing from his pre-school teacher that Eddie was sitting at snack singing loudly “We Are the Champions.” Appropriate…no. Adorable…yes.
Eddie and I both fell in love with the recent Justin Timberlake CD and bonded over many hours of listening to each track. When I would ask Eddie if he wanted the song “Suit & Tie” he would answer, “Yes. Oh yes. More Suit & Tie. Yes. Ok. Yes.” I think it’s pretty obvious that he liked it, and the flailing dance that he performed once the music began only confirmed it.
This topic came to mind because we are on our second morning in a row where Eddie was restless all night. He cries, and tries to sleep, but cannot quite get settled. In times of stress, and sheer exhaustion, we return to our musical friends to help Eddie (and ourselves) find reprieve. While wandering through the many choices on his iPod, we came up with Adele. His latest songstress, who helped us survive the night.
I realize that too much musical input can be harmful for kids like Eddie. Due to his expressive language deficits, and echolalia, too much non-meaningful language can clog his brain with words that have no purpose. However, the language in songs becomes meaningful when it helps him feel better…and puts a smile on a tear-soaked face.
It is a stereotype to assume that all children with visual impairments like music, but many do. If your child is one of them, how have you incorporated music into your life? How has it enriched the lives of your children who are blind or visually impaired? Does your child have a go-to album that they can’t get enough of? Your suggestions may be Eddie’s next favorite group and our new best friend during a long, sleepless night.