Songs in the Key of Me (or Poop)
Our son, Potato, was recently evaluated by an educational specialist from Fairfax Infant and Toddler Connection, the Early Intervention provider of his physical and speech therapies. When the specialist came to the house, I immediately began to study her methods in an effort to make sure I was doing everything I could as a mom to help his development.
She started singing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" while swaying back and forth, hand in hand with Potato. I never do that. She also rolled a car back and forth while singing, "The Wheels on the Bus." Um, yeah, I don't even know the real words to that one.
So there it was, my biggest shortcoming. I never sing to my child. Partly, because every time I have to sing a song, I cry for no seemingly apparent reason. But mostly, because I think little kid songs are incredibly annoying.
I must admit at this point that both my husband and I are musicians with fairly good voices. I wouldn't say I'm American Idol-worthy, but if you squint real hard and listen with only one ear, I could pass for Mariah Carey (or Drew Carey, take your pick). But, to my husband and I, former music teachers, songs like "Twinkle Twinkle” and "Hot Cross Buns” simply serve to remind us of those painful moments teaching elementary school music, a field of teaching in which you have to be overly-excited about playing three note ditties on plastic recorders while simultaneously playing the piano with your foot and the tambourine with the flat part of your nose.
Regardless, I've read the studies about the benefits of music to the development of infants. So why can't I sing a simple lullaby to my child? What mom gene must I be missing that I can't use my vocal talent for good, rather than karaoke evil?
I think it goes back to when Potato was first born, and I was still full of post-pregnancy hormones and angst. The NICU nurses encouraged me to bond with my baby through song. They said that even though I couldn’t hold him yet, the sound of my voice would comfort him.
I tried every song in my repertoire.
I started with “Rock-A-Bye,” (the Peter, Paul, and Mary version), but couldn’t get past the first refrain without crying. I attempted “Hush Little Baby” and forgot the words around verse 4 (it isn’t really the same when you are singing "and if that truck of water won’t park" instead of "and if that dog named Rover won’t bark"). My mom even suggested that Potato might enjoy "Give My Regards to Broadway" like I did as a babe. But even show tunes couldn't keep me from breaking down.
In the end, the only song I was able to eke out was a pretty passable rendition of “Lady” by Styx. Laugh if you will, but if it works, it works.
As Potato grew and we decided that it was time to retire "Lady" in favor of "Pop Goes the Weasel," we were again reminded of our loathsome relationship with children's music. So it was only inevitable that at the end of the evaluation, the specialist told us that yes, Potato was in need of intervention and that perhaps we should sing more songs with him. My husband and I exchanged knowing "oh crap" looks.
At that moment, I decided it might behoove us to take dear Potato to a music class where we could learn songs about how to put toys away and where your toes are located.
When I asked my husband to take him, he simply stated that, after watching an episode of The Simpsons in which Marge takes Maggie to a "Mommy and Me" class where they sing about not pooping in the tub, he decided that it is way too uncomfortable to sing about poop in public. Sigh.
So, here we are, again, not singing to our child. And he's going to be OK, right? RIGHT?
An Original DC Metro Moms Post.
Travel Mom writes about her musical family over at Traveling Marshalls. She can also be found @TravelMommy on Twitter. And her husband would like you to know that "tubs are for bathtime, and water-splashy fun. But there's one thing that must never be done. Poop in the tub, Poop in the tub. I'm not gonna poop in the tub."