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Thursday, February 7, 2013

on singing to your children

Confession time:  I was a big choir nerd in high school.  I love singing, I grew up singing, I have a group of friends that sing every time we're together.  I sang at weddings in the summer during college to earn a little extra dough.  It's ingrained in my life.  I sing pretty much all day long.  So now my children are growing up with a singing household.  Don't worry, we listen to professional singers a lot, too.

Second confession: I make up silly little songs every day.  When the littles were born, I made up silly songs for them.  Here is Fletcher's song, sung to the tune of Allouete:

Fletcher Joseph, I love Fletcher Joseph
Fletcher Joseph, he's my little boy.
Oh I love you so so so,
Oh my Fletcher Joe Joe Joe
Fletcher Joe
Fletcher Joe
Fletcher JOE OH!

I know, I should take this on the road.  And here is Rowan's song, sung to the tune of Peter Paul and Mary's Lemon Tree:

Rowan Catherine is so pretty,
Rowan Catherine is so sweet.
And I love Rowan Catherine,
From her hair down to her feet.
Rowan Catheriiiiiiine.

Really silly songs.  But they both could say their full names before they were 18 months old!  They both request their songs often.  We all love songs that feature our names, right?  I also started making little songs for everything we would do when they were just babies.  I read a book about telling your baby everything you are doing with them, just so that they get all that verbal communication.  "We're putting on your clothes now.  Here's your shirt, and these are your pants."  Something like that.  So I of course have a song for putting on socks.  Sung to a made up tune.

Sockies on our feet
Sockies on our feet
We'll have everyone else beat
When we have sockies on our feet.

I have songs for eating.  Songs for specific foods we eat.  Songs to wake up the littles in the morning.  Songs for mornings that they go to school.  Songs for taking a bath.  You may at this point think that this is really silly, and such a waste of time.  I agree, it IS silly.  But definitely not a waste of time.
When I sing one of our daily ritual songs, the littles eyes light up in recognition of what is coming next. They are prepared, and it helps to prevent melt downs that stem from difficulties in transitioning to the next activity.  A silly song that lets the kids know that we're about to eat lunch is an easier transition from play to lunch than just suddenly announcing, "Lunch time!"  It can be jarring for a toddler to transition so suddenly, especially when they are lost in their world of play.  Singing a silly song almost extends that world into what is coming next.  I've done it both ways, and transitions are ALWAYS easier when there is a song involved.

I've had my grumpy days when I just want to TELL them to DO what I am SAYING.  And it never works.  Makes me grumpier when they don't transition well.  And I know you're probably thinking our house is a really annoying place to be, but trust me, children crying is way more annoying.

There has been an unexpected development in all this singing.  My children are making up songs.  Fletcher has mini-operas about trains while playing with trains, and Rowan takes familiar tunes and changes the words to what is going on.  Just last night Fletcher made up a song about the dinner I made, and it even RHYMED.  People, he's writing songs at the age of 4.  Move over Mozart.  Ha!

Since I love to sing, it provides an extra joy to parenting, especially when my children join in the singing.  I'm not suggesting it will work for everyone, but it has been one successful part of motherhood for me.  Happy singing!

18 comments:

  1. That's right, Ruthie! You are totally right! I have lists, books, memos, notes to myself, EVERYWHERE reminding me of all the songs we've sung since we were little lasses up til now, having children of our own! Jackie has been in a dark car crying and the only thing that comforted him was the sound of a familiar voice singing a familiar melody. You are giving them a gift, and it's obviously been a cherished one. Not to mention, they are learning from such a great musical role model. Always, always, keep them singing. Can't wait to sing with you again!

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  2. That's wonderful Ruthie. I wish I had some singing talent. I'm terrible. But, the great thing is, little kids don't judge mom's bad singing voice. When my son was a baby and he started to cry in the car, I could sing him a song to settle him down. The girl on the other hand...nothing worked for her. ;)

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    1. So true. I love that my kids don't judge my singing- yet!!

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  3. Oh, and I've BEEN there to hear some of these songs in person, and they are VERY catchy I tell you. And very cute!

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  4. We do the same thing with Olive! My husband is an amazing musician, so he has a special bedtime song he sings her every night before she falls asleep. She has to have her "lullaby" as she calls it every single night or she can't go to sleep. One night he wasn't home for bedtime and I had to call him and he had to sing it over the phone for her. She was ok with that, even though it was minus the guitar. We also make up little songs all the time. It's definitely an easier way to get things done sometimes. haha.

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    1. Sounds like your daughter is a lucky girl!

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  5. That's so great, lucky kids! I do sing a lot too, but I am terrible awful really bad at it. I actually had someone ask me once if I was tone def, and they weren't kidding. Luckily W doesn't mind- yet :)

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    1. Ha, I wouldn't describe my kids as being "lucky" that I sing all the time...

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  6. Again, just one more creative side to Ruthie!! Lucky kids. :) Sometimes when I sing, Sam laughs. Or cries. Let's just say I don't have the most receptive audience. Or it might possibly be my voice. But most likely my audience. (Right?) ;)

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    1. That's right. They have no taste yet ;)

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  7. I love that you sing to your kids. It takes me back to the silly songs I'd make up. But you are much better at it than your Mom. You and your kids bless each other.

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  8. I love this! Singing is so good for kids! I'm not much of a musician, but we do listen to music all the time. Maybe that counts? :) I've read that songs really help kids remember stuff. I may have to give this a try. We all know my kids can use help with their transitions!

    P.S. Did I tell you we had sidecars with meyer lemons last weekend? So good! Thanks for sharing your creative side with us! Happy weekend!

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  9. This is really inspiring, Ruthie! I'm not a singer so mine only got lullabies when they were newborns. They know ALL the traditional Christmas songs but only because Pandora's Christmas station was on for like...two months straight. ;) I've read that theory before about transitioning and helping make them aware about what they're doing through song and how good it is for developing verbal communication and makes them much more likely to be able to hit the right notes themselves and be singers, etc. It's a whole other thing, though, to hear someone's story about how it's working for their family. I

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    1. Thanks, Rachel! It does work for us, and I love that they're making their own songs now. Makes for fun parenting!

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  11. Ha! I used to make up songs too! The Things remember them to this day too-- such wonderful stuff!

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your comments are the peanut butter to my jelly!