Growing Older With the Wiggles (#139)
13 November 2005
At The Wiggles concert in Madison Square Garden, I knew the words to all the songs and pointed my fingers and did the twist, and mash banana'd and cold spaghetti'd, and put my hands in the air and mock-rock-a-bye'd my bear. Charlie stood up when Captain Feathersword came out and his mouth formed a big O when the lights dimmed for Hot Potatoes. "What's with Greg?" Jim asked after we'd noted he was in short sleeves and standing stiffly while singing and was not on stage when Jeff, Murray, and Anthony were jumping and dancing with the happy exuberance Charlie and I had seen them display over the past five years on our TV.
When we first saw the Wiggles as a preview to a Barney video, Charlie could have cared less. I would hold his hands and move them in time to "Hot Potatoes" and pull him around the room after me in a circle. Jim and I stood in front of him and called out "do this" and rubbed our stomachs when "Fruit Salad" came on. "The Wiggles have blue, purple, red, yellow shirts--almost like Teletubbie colors!" I would proclaim as if I were a forty-niner striking gold in a eureka moment. "Hey Charlie, wake up----" Jim would say and softly prompt "jjjj---jjjeeehhh--" "Weff," said Charlie (last year, after a lot of trying).
Most of the audience at the Garden today were not even born when Charlie and Jim and I "met" the Wiggles. How many long cold winter evenings and long hot summer afternoons did Charlie and I pass memorizing the hand motions for "Taba Naba," dancing together as Slim Dusty played his guitar, and learning that a "barbie on the beach" meant a beach cook-out. ("They're the descendants of the Monkees," said Jim. "So of the Beatles," I said. "Yeah, Anthony's George, Murray and Greg are kind of both John and Paul. But Jeff is definitely Ringo," was Jim's reply.) Were those other parents thinking that I--a thirty-something old knowing the words to more Wiggles' songs than their kid--should get a life?
Charlie's Wiggles DVD's are in a messy pile in his room and have not been watched for months. He's picked up his own guitar and calls for Jim to put in Chuck Berry singing "Maybelline" when they run errands together in the black car. He's been watching baseball and ESPN with his dad, not Barney (as a thirteen-year-old with autism we know is). His new bike--24-inch wheels and seven gears--is big enough for me to ride (not that he'd let me). Charlie keeps moving on.
I was glad the three of us could finally see the Wiggles live in concert. "Greg's wincing," Jim said at one point, while the other three hopped off and on the stage, hammed it up and clicked their heels. At the end, Anthony told the crowd that Greg had just learned this week that he has a double hernia and must return to Australia for surgery, but had insisted on being in this final New York show. As Jim and I walked out with Charlie holding both of our hands, we were still thinking about how they were a team of four friends, three of whom danced and smiled extra hard to help the one who couldn't, and how the show went on, because it had too.
Get well soon, Greg. And thanks for helping us to love to dance with Charlie.