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  • Driving down route I-81 this afternoon, I was singing harmony to Mary Gautier on my iPod when I was struck in the back of the head with a pacifier. My passenger apparently lost his temper with either my singing or the sight of the back of my head. It was the 11th hour of our 13 hour drive from New Jersey to North Carolina. Any two year old strapped in a car seat that long is entitled to a protest; it could have been much worse, much sooner.

    "I want guitar!" was his demand. All the toys I brought had been played with and thrown by now. He missed his "guitar," a baritone ukulele with all four strings out of tune. He usually strums on it a little each day, and he hadn't had a chance to today. It was in the way back of the van. This ride will never end if I keep pulling over, I thought, but then wondered if he could play it while riding in his car seat. I pulled over to see. We were dissapointed almost to tears to find the neck was too long. The tuning pegs crashed against the car window.

    "Would you like to play it in the grass?" The last two hours might be worse without this break, I reasoned. Zysean scrambled down as soon as his belt was unbuckled, gripped his instrument by the neck, and ran barefoot into the cool grass behind the gas station. After making a few circles with his head down, he swung his uke by the neck and clutched the huge body of it to his chest. A purposeful gaze out at the parking lot, and he began vocalizing some long, loud vowels while bouncing his knees up and down to the rhythm of his strokes. "Mommy dance!" he said. So I did.

    His 15 minutes of rock stardom produced an elevated mood that took us right on home.
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