At 7am on a Saturday, my two-year-old was babbling nonsense in his crib, as usual. Or so I thought….
He was splayed out on his back, clutching his blanket and the sippy cup I forgot to remove last night. His eyes squinted bitterly in the bright light of the sun. And when he started babbling again, I could almost make out the lyrics to a Hardy song:
“I woke up with my sippy cup this morning.”
To my surprise, he was singing his own rendition of Hardy’s hungover break-up anthem, “Boots,” as only a toddler could. As the original goes:
“My only suitcase It’s by the front door That look on your face says you Don’t want me no more There’s no use in talking This time you mean it You’re sending me walking Well, what a convenience
‘Cause I woke up in my boots this morning Fell asleep in my boots last night Had a feeling that I’d run out of warnings Girl, I couldn’t have been more right…”
My toddler gets it.
He’s not dealing with heartbreak and regretful choices. But maybe his older brother punched him awake and called him a “baby.” He might not be wearing his boots in bed. But he’s certainly lying in a pile of his own feces. And although adult relationships are hard, are they really as hard as the life of a toddler, where every task is new, no one understands you, and you spend most of the day pissing your pants and crying?
Even a two-year-old could sense the melancholy in the words “I woke up in my boots this morning.” I could hear the pain and conviction in his voice, like he was Hank Williams crying into the microphone. Perhaps he was having the worst day of his two-year-old life, and that “convenient” sippy cup was the only thing holding him together.
Hardy’s original song, from his debut full-length studio album, A Rock, tells the story about one of those worst days, featuring a broken relationship. He describes a pathetic final scene where the protagonist wakes up with his boots on after a night of heavy drinking, knowing full well that means his girlfriend is kicking him out for good.
It has the theme and imagery of a sad, country song…
But “Boots” is actually a fire-you-up, rock anthem that Hardy likes to deploy early in his shows to inject some instant energy into grateful fans like me. Despite the fatalistic story of a dude who can’t help but ruin his relationship, there’s something defiant and optimistic about Hardyyelling “I woke up in my boots this morning” into the microphone over some heavy guitar riffs, giving it the kind of surprising depth that I love about a good country song.
I tried to give my kid a hug. But instead of accepting the comfort of my embrace, he pushed me away and laughed. Sure, he might be lying in poop and staring at a long, frustrating day of striving desperately to get simple things like food, attention, and just one more cookie.
But maybe, like the protagonist in “Boots,” there was hope behind the sadness. He had breakfast waiting on the table, a series of doting adults eager to respond to every whimper, and a dutiful dad ready and willing to wipe his ass.
And of course, he woke up with his sippy cup this morning.