Tuesday, April 14, 2015

L is for Lullaby

Yesterday's A to Z challenge I discussed my love of all children's music. I had hoped to go more into why I think, despite appreciating the philosophies behind the methods, they are not very suitable in a family setting. However, we are in the middle of a 1,000 mile trip from central Florida to Virginia, so perhaps I will save it for a later letter. Besides, I couldn't find a good "L" word for that discussion.

Instead, today I want to talk about something that has sadly left my life as my children have grown, yet took up a great deal of my musical activities during their early lives.

 L is for "Lullaby".

When the twins were infants, despite having taken classes in children's music during college, I found myself not remembering many children's songs, and in truth, we didn't learn many lullabies anyway. Because we were so very poor, running out to grab a cassette tape (yes, I still didn't own a CD player) was also not an option, and it was years before youtube or a quick google search. I sang anything I could remember.

That consisted of mainly "You Are My Sunshine" and "All the Little Horses", the latter learned as a woman's choir arrangement during college. Sometimes I'd remember parts of the Carpenter's "Close to You", and Kermit's "Rainbow Connection". That seemed to be more than enough for them and they were perfectly happy to hear me sing those songs over and over again.

The truth is, children just love to hear their mother's voice sing something - anything in a soothing sound. As a rule, they don't care that it was the most enriching music from different cultures and in a perfectly tuned voice.

By the time Sean came along I had been teaching music classes to preschoolers for a couple of years and knew dozens of songs. I would choose a handful of them to sing to Sean from day one, but he quickly wanted the enriching music from different cultures and a perfectly tuned voice. So, I had an exception to prove my rule.

His favorite song was a Yiddish lullaby, "Sleep my Little Bird". I could also sing "All the Pretty Horses", and "You are My Sunshine", plus an Armenian Lullaby I had learned through one of Kindermusik's CDs. I had to sing every single one of his favorites, every single night, and in order. He quickly nixed any song that didn't meet his preferences.

After some time he'd start picking on the pitches I would choose or if I'd change notes when I shouldn't. Mind you, this happened when he was a toddler to preschooler. Barely talking but already correcting me musically. That pattern was only going to grow.

Then years later Mary was born. I retired from teaching because I didn't think I could handle the schedule along with homeschooling the older three, but there were still dozens of wonderful children's songs going through my head, and she was happy with any of them. She had a few favorites, but just loved being held, rocked, and hearing me sing to her. My general rule about children just loving to hear the sound of their mother's voice was safe, and I was more certain than ever that her brother was just one of life's oddities!

(On a side note: At the age of three, I taught Mary the first songs she sang with the band by singing them to her as lullabies at bedtime. Soon she knew them and could easily sing along with me, only into a microphone while I sang quietly in her ear. Never any pressure, only singing with Mom as she did all of the time!)

I never realized how much singing lullabies would bring me joy. I was never a "kid person" before having my own children, and in truth, I'm not the best with other-people's-children even today, unless I'm putting my teacher/entertainer hat on, then I love it. I admit, my arms don't ache to rock and sing to any random baby, but it would be nice had I realized back then how fleeting was that time.

At this point in my life, my children have zero interest in me singing lullabies to them. I will have to wait around for grandchildren. Even though the twins are adults, the closest to grandchildren I will get from them anytime soon are from the feline species. They have no interest in romance. Sean's mainly interested in video games, not to mention that he's years away from marriageable age, let alone the needed maturity, so he won't be supplying any little ears for lullabies anytime soon either. In my mind, Mary will never leave the lullaby age herself, even though, in the real world, she left it a few years ago. So, my love of singing lullabies to littles will have to wait.

If you have a lullaby age child in your home, please sing. Soon enough they'll be rolling their eyes at youwhen you sing to them, so you better get it in before the eyes get the needed dexterity.

Thanks for reading my languishing lullaby lamenting. Tomorrow, if he can get the editing done, we'll have a guest blogger, or "vlogger" for the letter "M". I'll give you a hit: Despite the letter "M", it will NOT be about music. There is something far more important to the guest blogger and it has something to do with random, pixelated blocks on a computer screen.

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