Friday, July 28, 2006 | I’m trying to raise my kids to be musical.
But that doesn’t mean they want to hear music from me.
I love singing and I make up silly songs to sing all the time. In fact, I’m making one up as I write this. It goes “voiceofsandiego.org. I have a deadline to make before fourg” (allow me some artistic license, please).
Some of my Moye masterpieces include “Raised By Dogs,” which has lyrics like, “Arf Arf Arf Arf,” and “Zooky Zooky Zoo” goes, “Zooky zooky zooky/ Zooky zooky zoo/ It’s a simple song that anyone can do/ You can sing it if you’re an ostrich or a kangaroo/ Come along and sing this song/ Zooky zooky zoo.”
Then the song repeats itself innumerable times with lines like “You can sing if you’re a monkey or a cockatoo,” or “You can sing it if you’re healthy/ Or even with the flu” and even “You can sing it if you’re rubber/And your friend is glue.”
Get a rhyming dictionary and try it yourself.
Alex has been known to hum these ditties herself but if I try to do it – usually when we’re playing make-believe, she comes back with an emphatic, “Daddy, don’t sing.”
“But I love singing.”
“But you’re supposed to be a baby. Babies don’t sing.”
“What if it’s a baby singer?”
“Babies don’t sing.”
This goes against my natural sense of fair play. I never tell her to stop singing. I love her cute little three-year-old warbling on my songs as well as other classics like “Holly Jolly Christmas,” which she never stopped singing since she learned it six months ago.
She also started singing a song called “Elephants in the Closet,” which, as far as I can tell, is about elephants that are in a closet. I asked her, “Are the elephants in the trunk?”
“No, they’re in the closet.”
Thanks for clarifying.
I don’t know why she wants to me to stop singing. Maybe it’s because she feels it takes the focus away from her.
Funny, but my four-month-old son, Owen, has the opposite reaction. He loves it when I take out my ukulele and sing to him. Even though he’s still a young’un, he seems to have a taste for doo wop and smiles hardest when I sing “Sh-boom,” or the “bomp-bompa-bop danga-di-dang-dang” from “Blue Moon.”
On the other hand, the Beatles song, “In My Life” gets a very dramatic reaction. He spits up. I’ve tried to explain the song was written before John Lennon met Yoko Ono but, hey, everyone’s a critic. Even a four month old.
I think the song he likes most is the one that’s most theatrical: “Flying Baby.” I lift him up in the air and sing, “Flying baby/ Flying oh so high/ Flying baby/ Drool in Daddy’s eye.”
Usually when I do that, he sends some spit up or drools right into my face. Silly me. But I can’t stop singing the song. It’s too catchy.
I wrote “Flying Baby” when Alex was born and that was a big hit around our house along with “Pink Pink Potato Bug.”
The lyrics go something like this: “Pink pink potato bug/ You fill our hearts with lots of love/ When you’re curled up like a ball/ I can’t see your face at all.”
That was a song dedicated to Alex, because when she slept in her pink onesie, she would stick her butt up in the air much like a pink potato bug would, if potato bugs were pink.’
My wife, who has the most soulful singing voice of any tone-deaf person I know, loved the song and we often duet on it together. We still sing it for Alex but it doesn’t work as well because Owen’s a boy and we believe in stereotyping our children’s wardrobe whenever possible.
Music impacts my parental life in other ways.
There are times when I’m playing my ukulele that Alex wants to play it and I am reluctant to let her play my precious axe, so, instead, I take down an accordion and let her jam on it. After all, it’s not really a musical instrument.
My dad – who, as a professional musician, instilled the love of music in me – also instilled a fear of the accordion. He used to say the only difference between an accordion and the bagpipes is that the bagpipes burn faster.
I haven’t needed to build a fire yet but I figure if Alex breaks the accordion, it won’t hurt me as much as if I lost my precious ukulele.
I don’t know for sure if Alex or Owen will become musicians, but part of me already sees Alex as a guitarist because she’s such a ham. Owen, on the other hand, has a sly little grin that seems more like a bass player. Those are the guys in a band who are happy knowing they have the real control of the sound without having to deal with the hassles of being up front.
Part of me hopes that even if Alex and Owen don’t become professional musicians, it would be nice for us to have a family band. As such, I am already working out a set list that includes some Tommy James, some Marshall Crenshaw and, of course, “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap,” which is the best soundtrack music for changing diapers ever written.