Hanging on just a little bit longer

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I’m lying to my child. There, I said it. And it’s about something important. I don’t feel guilty about it either.

Maybe I should explain.

My natural inclination as a writer and reader is to lean into tactile and visual experiences: the feel of an old book in my hands, the pleasant tingle of my fingertips after an evening of writing, like I’m doing right now. Or visually, the words on a page, the view from a mountaintop, the face of my daughter or wife. These are sensory moments that feel weighty.

But it wasn’t until having Little Bean that I discovered how important music was to my identity, and how much I wanted her to experience that as well.

When I was my daughter’s age, my mother owned a transistor radio which she kept atop the fridge in our kitchen. She’d play it every morning as I’d get ready for school. She loved the Beatles, a seminal band to her youthful life, and would sing Hey Jude at the top of her voice as often as it came on the radio, which back then was a lot. 

There is this moment during one of those mornings when we sang it together – where she used a spoon as a mic and we both leaned into that kitchen utensil and belted those “Nah, nah, nahs” at the top of our lungs.

That remains a core memory for me. I always hoped it did for her as well. There’s plenty of research to back all this up, of course, the effect music can have on cognitive ability and concentration. But like a simple meal shared among friends, a simple tune sung with those you love and who love you back, offers a more emotional and intimate connection.

When I think back on my mother now, and she died when I was very young, Hey Jude is one of the moments I turn to where I can hear her voice and see her face.

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Little Bean with “John Lennon” 2019 and 2022.

The Beatles were a constant in Little Bean’s life as well. When she was a toddler, it was the funny, goofball songs – Octopus’s Garden, Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da, and her favorite, Yellow Submarine. Then mornings, in the car on the way to pre-school, I’d pop in the best of the early years CD; the classics like Help and Hard Day’s Night. In recent times, she’s begun to dig a little deeper, belting out “All the lonely people” for example. I’ve had to tip-toe around exactly what the heck was Norwegian wood.

A couple years ago, before the pandemic, she became a Beatles groupie officially. We began to follow the cover band, Studio Two, a Massachusetts-based early Beatles band that would dress and perform not just Beatles songs but AS the Beatles, complete with mop-top wigs and ’60s style suits. She loves them. We saw them three times in one summer, and even got to befriend “John” who she’d always bring a flower.

Here’s the catch – no matter how much I’d try to explain the concept of a cover band to her, she always insisted that Studio Two was the real Beatles. So, after a while, I just let her believe. What could be more magical than the first band you see in your young life be The Beatles?

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago and the first time we made it back to a concert since the pandemic. Studio Two, or should I say, The Beatles, were playing in a local park in town and she was excited. She wore her Yellow Submarine shirt; we packed a lunch and off we went. 

While there, she ran into one of her little friends, a couple years older than her. They danced, ran around and enjoyed the music. Then this happened.

“Daddy,” she said, her friend in tow, both of them looking up at me, “he says that the Beatles don’t exist, that this is a fake band. This is the Beatles, right Daddy?”

I didn’t even hesitate. I straight up lied to both those kids. It wasn’t even hard.

“Yes,” I said, “yup, of course that’s The Beatles.”

They ran off, my daughter’s friend confused and defeated, my daughter elated. 

The world is tough enough, my friends, tough enough without her having to yet understand that The Beatles are long gone. She’s going to be upset at me when she finds out. It won’t be a pleasant moment. 

Until then, my mom’s voice echoes in my ears and my daughter twirled as Studio Two crashed into their version of I Saw Her Standing There and one tiny soul still believes and for now, I’m pretty okay with the lie being magical.


About this Author

Dan Szczesny

Dan Szczesny is a longtime journalist and author who lives with his wife and energetic daughter in Manchester. Dan writes a daily journal called Day By Day where you can subscribe for FREE to get essays, articles and updated. Learn more about Dan’s adventures and Day By Day at https://danszczesny.substack.com/