There’s no one like a young kid to make you feel like a stellar singer. I love to sing, but it’s not a God-given talent, or even one that can be bestowed by practice. So I love that Sprout loves me singing to and with him.
I’ve been singing to Sprout since he was born. In his earliest days, I’d hold him in my arms in the middle of the night, singing and pacing up and down our living room. I’d sing almost anything that came to mind – mostly children’s songs, because the lyrics were easy to remember, but occasionally rock favorites too.
The three most common were House on Pooh Corner by Loggins and Messina, a revised version of Rock-A-Bye Baby, and a song borne of my mom’s slight desperation when I was a baby.
I changed Rock-A-Bye Baby because the idea of singing a song about falling out of a tree is a bit dire for a newborn and certainly no reassurance for a nervous mom. In the hospital the night after Sprout was born, Chris helped me come up with a variant. For the last two lines, we substituted out “When the bough breaks, the baby will fall / Down will come baby, cradle and all,” with this geeky replacement: “All of the birdies do sing and call / He’s the best baby, so say we all.” We watched Battlestar Galatica while I was pregnant, so that particular phrase was still fresh in our minds.
My mom’s song, “Rockie rockie baby,” arose out of a similar predicament. When I was born, she couldn’t think of the words of a single lullaby. (Funny, now that she has a mental jukebox of kids’ songs from three decades of teaching.) So she made one up, so simple that even the most sleep-deprived new mom could remember it. It basically consists of the phrases: “Rock/Rockie,” “baby” and “you’re my little baby” in various combinations. So of course, I sang that to him as well, carrying on the tradition.
The love in our voices must have trumped the musical talent, because Sprout still loves to hear both of us sing. He enjoys his Music Together classes and banging on his instruments, but his favorite musical thing is singing with one of us. My mom now sings to him almost every time we FaceTime with my parents. She taught him how to start singing “You are my sunshine,” with her singing most of the parts and him filling in the ends of verses. She’ll sing “You are my…” and he’ll pipe in “sunshine!” with his tiny voice. It’s obscenely adorable. I decided to join in the fun by teaching him “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” I love the night and star-gazing, so it was an appropriate complement.
Sprout’s even started singing back to me when he knows I need it. When I was going through a rough patch a couple of weeks ago, he hugged me, rocked back and forth and sang, “Rockie rockie.” I hugged him tighter, leaned in and listened. It was one of the most comforting things anyone did or could do for me.
I hope that even as he realizes we aren’t very musically inclined, the spirit stays, the hope and the love of our songs.