What a Wonderful World

After a few weeks’ break, I’m so incredibly happy to resume Small Moments Mondays.

And I can’t think of anyone better to kick things off than John, from The Adventures of Daddy Runs a Lot.

What words can I use to describe John? Witty, kind, intelligent, loquacious, driven? Yes, all of those things.

But there’s more…there’s something amazing about how all of those qualities come together and make John who he is.

Thank you, John, for sharing this lovely story here on in these small moments. Your generosity means the world to me.

What a Wonderful World–by John

I can say that “I love music,” but that’s like saying “I like to eat” or “I prefer breathing to any alternative” for many of us. I named my son Coltrane after the greatest tenor saxophone player to ever live. I am constantly playing some instrument, or singing, to my kids because I need them to know the joy that music gives me1.

All of this brings us to Louis Armstrong, whom I love for a plethora of reasons, though two stand out more than the rest. First is the quote “There is two kinds of music the good and bad. I play the good kind. which may or may not have been said first by Armstrong – but it doesn’t matter. It’s a kick-ass quote, and it allows me to turn up the volume anytime the t.A.T.u. anthem “All the Things She Said” comes up on my iPod with minimal embarrassment.

The next is that he made the song “What a Wonderful World” popular. Now, this is a great song, and it likely would have found roots throughout popular culture no matter who “ran with it” first, but it was Louie, and I love him for it.

While the song is a great song about the importance of the acceptance of racial diversity, it’s the last verse that brings me to my small moment.

I hear babies cry

I watch them grow

They’re learning more

Than we’ll ever know

And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

When you’re playing a keyboard instrument with a baby on your lap, you expect the little one to pound on the black & white keys before him or her. They’re there, and when they’re pounded on, they make noise, and they control that noise, and that control is good.

I can usually only take a few minutes of this.

But, the other day, I had to stop & stare in wonder.

We were in the music room (I have a lot of instruments, so they’re all relegated to what would be the “formal living room” in most houses) when the boy asked to play the organ (which he does, at his 21 months old, by pointing and grunting). I sat down on the bench, my 14-month-old girl in my lap, lifted the boy onto the bench beside me, turned the organ on, turned on some voices, and we all started playing a little something.

It didn’t take long for my girl to want to wander about. On the floor were a set of maracas, and shaking those was a lot more interesting than the stupid noises she was making, so I went to put her down on the floor.

Somewhere along the way, the “clear voices” button was hit on the organ . . . it was on, but pressing the keys simply didn’t make a sound. CJ started pressing buttons until the keys made sounds, and he looked with his “serious face” as he realized that the sound changed as different of these buttons were pressed. So, then he pressed more & more buttons until they keys made a sound he liked.

Rather than just pounding on the keys, beating them with his fists, he took one finger and started pressing the keys, individually.

He’d play a few notes, stop, and then press the voice selectors, turning some on and some off, until there was something in the sound that the notes made that “worked” for him.

As I sat on the ground, shaking maracas with my little girl, he sat at the organ and started playing a melody (well, random notes, but random notes played one at a time) and did this babblesing along with them.

I sat, my daughter in my lap, marveling at the fact that I was actually watching the boy learn, right before my eyes.

He turned his head to the left and gave me that great big smile that he gets when he “gets” something (as he tries to figure something out, he has a look of utmost concentration) and then asked for help getting off the organ bench . . . the guitar had caught his eye.

What a wonderful world, indeed.

1 I tend to prefer that my singing soothes my children instead of eliciting nightmares, but I think this statement is subject to verification.
You can also find John entertaining the masses over on Twitter. Go, follow! :)


  1. CDG

    What a wonderful world, indeed! I'm nowhere near the musician that John is, but when my little boy started wanting to sit down at my piano, it was so good for my heart.

    And he's got his eye on my guitar, too!

    A moment from John is the perfect way to bring Small Moments Mondays back. Hooray!

  2. JDaniel4's Mom jdaniel4smom.com

    What a joyful sounds he made! It is such fun to watch children learn.

  3. John

    Awww, I'm all sorts of blushing over here.

    That's really great to hear that your boy is interested in music like he is. He obviously has a very musical momma (on-stage attacks of bassists-minding-their-own-business notwithstanding), so it would only make sense that he'd want to pick it up. All I can recommend is to encourage, encourage, encourage. But, you already knew that . . . and were probably already doing that :-)

  4. John

    It really is. I know things are changing, constantly, but I'm really loving this age, because you can see their brains at work.

  5. Evonne julesoutloud.blogspot.com

    I absolutely love that song! And that line is the best. There's not much that makes me happier than seeing a child of any age getting that look on their face when they finally "get' something.

  6. tracy@sellabitmum sellabitmum.com

    What a perfect post. I love this so much. It is indeed a wonderful world – watching these littles learn and grow. Little miracles of joy.Daily. Also, guess what song I will sing all day.

  7. polwig polwig.com

    Beautiful post, a little composer in a making, perfect name and wonderful world indeed.

  8. Pop

    Similar thing happened to me last week when D2 started pressing individual keys on her little piano. She BEAMED at me. Then she looked down at the piano again and began pounding it with her fist again.

  9. Aleta fleurdealeta.blogspot.com

    I play the piano and also understand that the pounding on the keys by kids can send me to pulling my hair after a few minutes. What you shared about your son and him learning the sounds, that was beautiful!

  10. I love that age so much, as they discover new things and find such joy and amazement in them. What a lovely post, and it's not a bad song to have playing in my head all day :)

  11. John

    There are few feelings that I wish i could bottle – that "I just saw someone 'get' something" is one. Especially when it's my kid :-)

    Thank you for reading.

  12. thisismynewmoon

    Great post! Thanks for sharing, John. Right around two years old is such a great age – they're just figuring things out and want to learn everything.

  13. John

    One of the things I love about What a Wonderful World is that there are enough versions out there that, for those who are well-versed with earworms, you can alter the version that's playing in your head. Start with Louis Armstrong, head to Israel Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole (if you're really good, you can get to Somewhere Over the Rainbow from here), Engelbert Humperdinck, The Flaming Lips, Tony Bennett. Heck, even Joe Pesci's version isn't horrible.

  14. John

    Oh, I hope that he's a composer in the making :-)

  15. John

    As time passes, both kids are keeping up the "play one note at a time" a little bit more. Well, the boy is – the girl has moments where she's all kinds-of delicate with a piano, but then, in the blink-of-an-eye, we go right back to having her be insistent on creating as much noise as possible.

  16. John

    That might have been my favorite part – it started with "press this button on the bottom, and it lights up. Press the button on the top, and the light turns off," but it didn't take long for him to realize that the sounds were different. He clearly enjoyed the flute sounds over the trumpets or reeds, and he thought the tremolo was hilarious.

  17. John

    Thank you for reading – and, yeah, I hope most readers can stand this song as an earworm for a day or so :-)

  18. Bridget twinisms.com

    How sweet! It's nice to be reminded that it is indeed, a wonderful world. Thanks:)

  19. Sherri

    This is absolutely wonderful….and I could picture the scene and the sounds and the feelings so perfectly.

  20. Jessica

    Oh I love this post. I love when we have those moments where we can take a step back and appreciate it for what it is rather than being caught up in trying to get our kids to do something they are "supposed to." Such a sweet small moment.

  21. chosenchaos chosenchaos.blogspot.com

    How wonderful to have caught this moment. I'm sure I would have missed it by rushing away to do something else. A good reminder, thank you!

  22. MommaKiss mommakiss.com

    If my boys have any sort of musical talent, it will not be from me. Dancing, though? They're awesome at dancing! ahem.

    Love this John, and the pics of you and your kids that I see.

  23. Mad Woman behind the Blog

    One: Love me some John, so thank you Nichole.
    Two: Love Louis! That song will be in my head all day. It is a personal fave of mine as well.
    Three: Music and children, could there be a better combination? (Well there is Nutella and bananas, Beer and pizza but besides those!).
    Four: The learning…what an awesome moment to capture. To recognize, to remember. This just makes my heart go pitter-patter. I love seeing that look on my daughter's face. Thank you John for reminding me to look for those moments.
    Honorable mention: Coltrane! Okay, coolness factor just skyrocketed!

  24. funnyorsnot

    Wait, you get the whole living room as your studio?

    You totally needed more than 6 words. I'm not sure why it seems more impressive when a dad slows down to notice these things, but it is. My husband is pretty hands on too, but it is more in a let's get em played with, fed, bathed, and in bed so we can get in on kind of way.

  25. John

    Unfortunately, that "just figuring things out and want to learn everything" coincides with "get into everything," but I agree – wouldn't trade my time with them right now for anything.

  26. John

    Thank you!

  27. John

    I can still picture the whole time around this moment, too . . . a snapshot in my mind. I'm glad my words came across as vividly as they did.

  28. John

    Yeah – there are times where I feel like my life is nothing other than "get my kids to do . . . or not do," so when I just get to sit around and "play," it's special. Having this happen, on top of that special time, it was something else.

  29. John

    Having the two so close in age to one another is a good deterrent from running away to do something else. They're close enough and young enough that you really can't leave them on their own (lest someone is smacking the other one with a toy), but far-enough in age where they're each on their own learning curve.

  30. John

    Thanks, Momma . . . and, I'm dead certain that there are two boys in the Boston-ish area that are going to downright own any dancefloor they come across.

  31. John

    I'm wondering how many ways I can say "thank you" in a reply. I know how to say it in a few different languages, but since I don't know how to make the funky characters with umlauts & stuff, I'll have to resort to "thank you," a bazillion-times over.

    And yes, Mad Woman, those moments are all around, with both of yours . . . it is truly something special to sit back & capture it – but I don't know if I could have captured this moment if it weren't for the fact that I had both of them together. She wanted to sit, so I gave her my lap . . . had that not happened, I likely would have gone about doing a plethora of other things, barely paying attention to the magic at the organ.

  32. julie gardner juliecgardner.com

    Your children are so very lucky.

    You are, too. Of course.

    But what a lovely childhood you are giving them…really.

  33. John

    Shhhh, I actually have two rooms set aside almost entirely for music. What would be the living room and the dining room in most people's houses are music rooms – one for "traditional" instruments (piano, organ, cello, bass, guitar, drums, flute, etc), and the other for electric instruments (although these I usually end up bringing to gigs, so it's always, always a mess).

    Yeah, I always need more than 6 words. I'm usually good at getting my point across right at 1,000. Or 10,000. I'm convinced I'll write a 1000 page novel where the plot won't advance at all.

    And on the "get it on" kind of way . . . I find that any actions to intentionally get the kids quiet & in bed backfires. Horribly. So, I let the "on" happen when it does . . . like winning the lottery (if you could win the lottery a few times every week . . . sometimes a couple times in the same day)

  34. John

    I'm going to try to remember this comment the next time I'm dealing with two incredibly cranky babies who absolutely are not tired and are not hungry and do not want to do anything but scream their heads off.

    Because I am lucky.

    Even if it doesn't feel that way sometimes.

  35. Tonya lettersforlucas.com

    That was one of my mother's favorite songs.

    Beautiful super special small moment. Thank your for sharing.

  36. John daddyrunsalot.com

    And thank you so much for reading & letting me know :-)

  37. Kir thekircorner.com

    It was the last song played at our wedding reception and I always feel so nostalgic for that day when I hear it, I read this and thought of it all weekend, about how amazing it is to watch our children grow, learn, teach US things.
    Last night the radio was on in the kitchen and Train was singing "Hey Soul Sister" , my Jacob is so muscial….but I didn't think he paid much attention to "popular songs"….pretty soon, we hear him running around the house singing his three year old version of it, I can hear "hey sooooul sista, radio, stereo, …you know" and I look at John (my hubby) and say, he's singing a TRAIN SONG…and lo and behold …he was. :)

    Loved this moment…thanks so much for sharing it with us. I adore that Jacob loves mucic and dancing so much right now…it makes me happy that he already found a passion of his own.

  38. Megan -Best of Fates bestoffates.com

    I love Small Moments Monday – thank goodness they've returned! And John is an awesome guest, good choice!

    p.s. Now I realize I need to learn an instrument so I don't deprive my children.

    Frick, we all know I'm too lazy to actually do that. Now I'm just going to have unexposed children.

    Double frick.

  39. Rachel mommyneedsavacation.com

    Beautiful post! And how was I not following John on Twitter? Just fixed that problem.

  40. John daddyrunsalot.com

    My half-brother-in-law is 20 years younger than my wife . . . I remember him, going about, singing the "popular" songs, but making up all of the words because, well, the finer points of poetry are kind-of lost when singers don't enunciate.

    I still remember the Corrs's Breathless . . . which because "Come On, Come On, Leave Me Bread & Lettuce"

  41. John daddyrunsalot.com

    Megan? If your kids aren't singing showtunes while still in the womb, I'm going to be shocked.

  42. John daddyrunsalot.com

    And how was I not following you? Remedied from both sides ;-)

  43. pauline aspiringmama.com

    Loved reading this. Very sweet and a great reminder to slow down and celebrate all the wonder in our children.

  44. Laura

    Loved the post, John. Maybe little Coltrane will live up to his wonderful name. Or maybe he'll reinvent the name for himself.

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