I have always tried to foster creativity with my boys. If they show an interest in something I encourage it. Last summer, my youngest offspring announced as we were driving down the road that he wanted to be a drummer. At the tender age of nine, he had decided that was his calling in life. In his mind, the Rock and Roll lifestyle was the only choice for him, even though he could not distinguish Tom Petty from Tom and Jerry.
“Son,” I said looking back at him in the rear view mirror, “Beating the Hell out of the back seat with an empty Coke bottle does not make you a drummer. I requires practice, dedication, and most importantly a set of drums.”
“But, I really want to play the drums,” he said looking at me pleadingly.
“If you wish to play the drums, then you must commit to practicing everyday. Not just a little bit. But everyday.” I did not want to tell him no. But I did not want to tell him yes, either.
My son leaned in closer to my seat from the back stretching as far as his seat belt would allow. “But, Ruben. What if? What if God just made it so I could play without practicing? What if I just could play?”
“Okay, Tommy Lee. Knock your self out with that Coke bottle. While you are at it, ask God if he can exchange that gift,” I said shaking my head.
“Who is Tommy Lee?” he said questioningly.
The months rocked on and he continued to casually mention getting drums. Around Christmas, the opportunity presented itself to get a set of beginner drums from my cousin who had bought them previously for her son that was destined to be a rock star as well. After much discussion with my husband, we decided to get the drums for my son. After all, they were free. Loading them up in the truck, I expressed my gratitude to my cousin for giving the drums to son. She laughed and said, “Don’t bring them back. You can find the next victim.”
To my son’s delight Christmas morning he found the drums in the living room. He excitedly sat behind the drum set and quickly demonstrated his gift from God to the world. With drum sticks in hand, he quickly doled out a perfect drum roll.
“Wow! That is pretty good, son.”
“I know, Ruben.” Confidence was something that he was not lacking.
With the hustle and bustle of Christmas Day, his time spent behind the drum set was limited. For the next few day, the drum set sat untouched as we carried on with Christmas gatherings. It was not until December 27th that we learned we had just signed a deal with the devil and acquired the “Drums of the Damned.”
BAM! BOOM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BANG! TING! TING! CHING! BOOM! BA-DA BOOM!”
Waking up to that sound was quite jarring at 6:45 AM. I stumbled out of bed and made my way into our living room and found my precious rock star in the making beating the Hell out of the drums.
“Listen. We need to establish some ground rules with this. You can’t be playing the drums early in the morning or late at night. In fact, you don’t need to play them when your dad is home from work. Afternoons are sketchy as well.”
“But when am I supposed to play, Ruben.”
“When I am not in the house, son.”
“And when I am not at the house, too,” my eldest son chimed in. Apparently, his beauty sleep was disturbed by little Tommy Lee as well.
Christmas vacation came to an end and the second semester rolled from balmy January to beautiful June. The drums were occasionally played by my son during this time as we stayed very busy with school. Even then it was more torture than Mick Fleetwood or Phil Collins echoing from the set sitting in my living room. I knew it was going to be a long summer, much to my chagrin. Nearly every day during the summer he would sit behind the drum set and just beat.
BOOM! BANG! BANG! BOOM! CHING! TING! BANG! BA-DA BOOM!
I thought I was in Hell.
I managed to tune out the sounds of the “Drums of the Damned” by occupying my time outside. Eventually, I was able to tune out the madness that was Rock and Roll in the making. A few days, before I went back to work, my son was sitting behind the drums and asked me to listen to what he was doing. What would five minutes hurt? Not my ear drums, because they had ruptured weeks before.
Slowly, with a look of determination he pick up the drum sticks and played.
BOOM…BA-DA BOOM…BA-DA BOOM…BANG…BANG…BOOM…BA-DA BOOM…BA-DA BOOM…BANG…BANG…
I looked at him incredulous, “My, God! That actually sounded like something! Good job! You really could be the next Tommy Lee! I am amazed! With real practice and lessons you could be great! I am so proud of you!”
He put the drum sticks down and stood up, “Yep. I could. But I am going to be an engineer and just build cool crap. I am done. I am going to play with my Legos now.”
Just like that, my dreams of being a rock stars mom went down the drain. At least I have the “Drums of the Damned” to remind me of what could have been.
“I have experienced the ninth circle of Hell. It sounded nothing like Phil Collins on the drums,” ∼Confessions of the Not So Rich and Famous