In which I disappoint Kiddo #2


Beatlemania continues unabated. We’ve now seen both the Help! and A Hard Day’s Night movies, and my Kiddos have large swaths of Beatles songs memorized. They argue about which songs they would give three, four or five stars, and they argue about which Beatle is their favorite. Whenever a new song comes on the iPod, they take a guess as to the lead singer. I have a video of Kiddo #4 playing “Ticket To Ride” for his Furby while drumming the table like Ringo.

From time to time, I find mini-concerts like this around the house:


(Note the angry Lego faces. I’m told that’s becoming more common with the trademarked Lego guys.)

Sometimes I find them performing for their adoring fans.


These are the brainchild of Kiddo #3, with his propensity to look at anything and see it not as it is but as it could be in one of his imaginary games, which is why sometimes you’ll open a puzzle box and find inside it no puzzle pieces, but a stuffed fish. “Oh, that’s my fishbowl.” Thank goodness the Advil is on a high-shelf and has a child-safe cap.

(Kiddo #3 also loves Sonic The Hedgehog, in his perpetual fight against the evil Dr. Eggman, but I won’t let him turn his Legos into those. Enough’s enough.)

Regardless, nowadays no car ride is complete without Kiddo #4 singing behind me, “Will you still feed me when I’m sixty-four?” Kiddo #3 will take the iPod and dial through his favorite songs out of the sixty or so I put on my Beatles playlist. We listen to the same fifteen repeatedly.

One day, he discovered “I Am The Walrus.” I should have pulled it from the playlist immediately because I find it creepy, but I’d forgotten, and as soon as we got to “I am the Eggman. They are the Eggmen,” I realized all was lost. This was now a Sonic Song, and Kiddo #3 was bound to love it. Which he did. That night while I cleaned the kitchen, he got on my iTunes and played it again.

I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together…

I murmurred, “The drugs were especially strong that day.”

I’d forgotten Kiddo #2 was behind me. She exclaimed, “The Beatles did drugs?!”

I turned, and she was wide-eyed. Heartbroken. For the moment, there was just shock, utter shock, that they’d do something like that.

All along, she’s been taught that you don’t do drugs. That drugs alter your brain and reduce your potential and change the way you think. That good kids don’t get involved with drugs and tell their parents if someone tries to make them.

But here was a group of people she admired…and they did drugs.

I remembered feeling the same shock as a kid, hearing that Yellow Submarine was slang for a kind of pill, or that at the end of the Walrus song they’re chanting “Smoke pot, smoke pot…”  They were able to produce these amazing works while hampered by drugs, and no one called them out on it. Somehow I reconciled it. I don’t remember how.

I said to her, “They were under a lot of pressure. They lived in a fishbowl. Sometimes their lives were in danger because of the fans. Eventually, the stress got to them.”

My Patient Husband said, “That’s just an excuse.”

I said, “Of course it’s an excuse. But I think that’s the excuse they used.”

Maybe it’s my imagination, but I don’t think she’s as gung-ho for them anymore. And now, when I hear some of John’s later songs, I think of heroin addiction; worse, some of their later songs have a new and piquant sadness.


  1. Laura Maisano (@MaisanoLaura)

    Aawww that makes me sad too. Though the little concerts are adorable!

  2. Tana Bevan

    When my darlin’ first made her appearance in the world, I was overwhelmed with Mama Bear emotion and love. No one — but no one — was going to hurt my darlin’.

    Fleetingly I envisioned keeping her in a bubble, safe from harm and all life’s hurts, big and small. I knew I couldn’t. That’s not life. Life is messy. Life runs the gambit from extreme good, kindness, and beauty to extreme bad, evil, and ugly.

    What I could do was love her unconditionally. Share with her what I’d learned along the way, teach her to use her gifts (a great mind, a wonder about all that was around her, the ability to think, explore, and ponder), and hope/pray/wish fervently my darlin’ would experience but teaspoons of sorrow to cups of joy throughout her life.

    May the dissolution of a hero be but a teaspoon of sorrow to Kiddo #2.

    1. Philangelus

      Thank you. And maybe a good lesson that just because people are really good at one specific thing, and can make you feel good too, that doesn’t mean everything they do is good. It’s a good lesson for our celebrity-driven culture, but I’d still like to keep her wrapped up in a bubble.

  3. Ken Rolph

    “I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together…”

    At that point the Beatles were high on Eastern religion and gurus. That’s a statement of the oneness of all things and the repeating cycle of life. I think you shot yourself in the foot on that one.

    1. philangelus

      It’s the combination of the acid trip music in the background and the statement of oneness that gets me. I’m aware of the basic tenets of Buddhism, but I’m also relatively sure that “sitting on a cornflake, waiting for the van to come” is not a reference to Siddhartha Gautama sitting under the Bodhi tree to receive enlightenment. 😉

      According to the Source Of Accurate Knowledge, Wikipedia, Lennon admitted parts of the song were written based on the experiences of two acid trips. So while Eastern religions may have been the source of his yearning for oneness, the expression certainly emerged from the drug use.

  4. Ken Rolph

    I was intrigued to see that given a choice between Hinduism and hallucinogens you chose to focus on the drugs.

    1. philangelus

      It’s the full context of the song. One line has an interpretation that you can kinda-sorta connect to Eastern religions, and all the rest of the lines are fairly demented.

  5. BethanyH

    As the ex-wife of a meth addict, thank you for teaching your kids all the things that drugs take away from a person’s intellect. The man I married I thought was a vibrant, intelligent teddy bear, but he turned out to be a hollow shell. 🙁 I dread the day my sons are old enough to understand why daddy can’t keep his act together.