So, last night, for some reason, I was feeling a bit wistful. I’m not sure what brought it on, but I started thinking about when my kids were little and the songs I would sing to them. Now that I think about it, the whole episode was probably brought on when I heard an old song on the radio. It was Smile, by Nat King Cole. Lost in the song, I mentioned to my husband that, when our kids were little, I would sing those lyrics when they were feeling down. It’s a beautiful song and, of course, I know I didn’t come close to doing it justice. But, as I listened to the words, my eyes welled up a little. It was just a moment that came and went and was all but forgotten until a few hours later, when, out of the blue, I, again, began to think back to those days. Memories tend to cloud reality. Raising four kids had its moments of exasperation, to be sure. But, thankfully, God erases the frustration, impatience and noise level of those days leaving the warm and fuzzy memories to cuddle up with.
I LOVE to sing, to which my brood will attest. I subjected my children to many, many songs over the years – everything from sweet lullabies to Irish rebel songs to Gershwin, whether folding laundry, cooking dinner or driving in the car. Probably most irritating to my kids, was my knack for coming up with just the right song to appropriately respond to about any question they had. That’s not an easy thing to do, and I have to say, I was pretty good at it. When they were young, I can remember calling them Veruca, from Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, if they ever whined about wanting something immediately. She was the awful girl who sang, “Don’t care how, I want it NOW!” They really hated that one.
But, I would say, that most of the time, the songs were fun and they loved to join in. One memory that formed a lump in my throat last night, was the song from Winnie The Pooh. We’d be driving along in the car and I’d sing, “Deep in the Hundred Acre Wood, where Christopher Robin plays, you’ll find the enchanted neighborhood of Christopher’s childhood days…..A donkey named Eeyore is his friend. And Kanga” at which point I would peer into the rear view mirror at Brian in his car seat, because he knew that was his cue: “and Litto Woo”
Me: “There’s Rabbit and Piglet…”
Brian: “And there’s Owl.”
Me: “But most of all, Winnie the…”
He loved that moment.
In another, slightly more sophisticated example, my sister had once been watching Mike and Brian, and when I returned to pick them up, she told me that she had been singing to herself (must run in the family) while immersed in some housework. The song was It Had To Be You and she had just finished the line, “For nobody else gave me a thrill…” when, in the next room, she heard four-year old Mike finish: “…With all your faults, I love ya still. It had to be you. Wonderful you. It had to be you.” She couldn’t believe it and I said, “Yeah, Mike likes Gershwin.” So funny.
I’m not so sure his admiration for the genius of the Gershwin brothers still ignites him with such passion (well, actually, I AM pretty sure that it DOESN’T), but those days were fun. I do believe, though, that my annoying habit managed to instill an appreciation for good music in all my children. And while I certainly can’t take credit for Peter and Mary Kate’s love for and dedication to music, as they continue in their pursuit of advancing college music degrees, I like to think I played some small role in their recognition and appreciation for the great standards.
I still love to sing and find myself humming a lot at work. I don’t even realize I’m doing it until a patient will ask me, “What are you humming?” and I think, Was I humming? Most of my patients like it. Most of them… But to the ones who don’t, I say, “Hey, dentistry has made a lot of progress over the years, but we refuse to make it a completely pleasant experience. That’s why we never warm up the water…and why I sing.” Now, just sit back and relax. This won’t hurt a bit…