I’ve heard it’s possible to block out traumatic experiences.

I assume this is what happened to me, as I have utterly no recollection of signing my child up to play the drums.

The whole thing came rather as a shock to me when I stopped by the school on a Wednesday afternoon and out came the boy rolling vacation luggage my way.

“I am glad you decided to pick me up today,” he said, wheels wheeling across asphalt.

“What? What is all this?”

“My drums,” he said with a note of “Well, duh,” which felt particularly ironic coming from someone wearing his shirt inside-out and backwards.

“I don’t remember ...”

But even as I said the words, a faraway conversation from four months ago struggled to push itself up through the smog in my brain, past the appointments and to-do lists, past the disjointed song lyrics and my mom’s recipe for cream puffs.

It wasn’t a strong memory, just a whisper of one. There was a permission slip, and I remember belting out, “I don’t want to work, I want to bang on the drum all day ...” the song I inevitably start singing whenever anyone anywhere talks about playing the drums. It is my go-to earworm.

At some point, I must have said yes to this.

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It’s not that I mind the drums. In fact, if the last month has taught me anything, drums are still light years ahead of the saxophone, as I know from my daughter’s brief frolic with that instrument. Bad drums just sounds like someone hitting something — no biggie. Bad saxophone sounds like a unicorn dying ... slowly, painfully.

But there is one sound that is worse than dying unicorn. That is the sound of a mother nagging. That, my friend, is the part I play every time one of my sweet things brings home an instrument. I play the badger. The hound. The “Did you practice today?” goader.

My commitment to this role has dwindled over each successive instrument. So much so that I’ve said very little about the need to bang on the drum all (or at least 10 minutes a) day, which has caused no shortage of stress for the boy on Wednesday mornings, the magical time the weekly practice sheet is due.

“Mom! I forgot to practice ... all week! You didn’t remind me!”

“Remind you?! Remind you?! You have a drum sitting in the middle of your bedroom! What do you want me to do, write a note on the top of the drum that says, ‘Play me’?”

“Could you?” asked the boy, being, I assure you, 100 percent serious.


And so into the bedroom the little drummer boy ran to get in a solid eight minutes of play time before the school bus arrived.

I stayed in the kitchen, one ear on the drums, the other listening for the arrival of the bus and all the while with a song in my heart, “I don’t want to work, I want to bang on the drum all day ...”

Martha Petteys writes a weekly column for The Post-Star. Write to her at petteyshome@gmail.com or visit her on Facebook.


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