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Songs!

As anyone knows, I’m not a terribly good singer. And sometimes, not even a good listener, but that’s another topic for another day.

Songs – these are one of the things in our huge arsenal that we use to manage our kids. We use them to help them sleep, to get them excited, to keep them happy in the car, and most of all just for unabashed entertainment value.

I have been going through a motherlode of songs with little YY… many of them different from the next. For instance, at the very beginning of my stay-at-home father life, which would be just a few months before YY’s first birthday, I would lull him to sleep singing Nirvana’s Heart Shaped Box (inappropriate? Sure, if you want to read into it that way, but come on, it’s sung with love rather than angst in this case, and a 10-month-old baby may not necessarily interpret the greater implications of that song anyway).

She eyes me like a pisces when I am weak
Been locked inside your heart-shaped box for a week

And often I’d sing a song that’s stuck in my head for years – Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock doing “Picture”:

I put your picture away
Sat down and cri-ed today…
I can’t look at you when I’m lying next to her.

Another somewhat depressing but very touching song. It does have an uplifting thing at the end where the couple in question gets back together and that’s it, it’s done.

But my favourite? Probably Harlem Blues from one of my favourite Spike Lee films.

You can never tell… what’s on a man’s mind.
And if he’s from Harlem, there ain’t no use in even tryin’.

And what’s kind of fun is I mess around with the lyrics a bit, or even hum the words I don’t know. As I’m rocking YY to sleep in my arms, I try to sharpen and raise my voice to a high pitch, and then down to a low pitch, and somewhere in between. Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow take turns singing, so here I am doing Kid Rock’s manly voice, then Sheryl Crow’s wonderfully female sing-song. And the Harlem Blues bit, I’ll try and get as high as I can without ripping my vocal cords apart. Or on some nights when I’m not quite up to it, I’ll switch it around so that I’m a guy singing that song:

You can never tell… what’s on a woman’s mind.
And if she’s from Harlem, there ain’t no use in even tryin’.

And I’ll do that in a deep, Leonard Cohen-type voice just for kicks. It makes that long end-of-day lull-to-sleep ritual that much more fun.

And lately? I’m now taking kid’s songs and messing around with the lyrics in a big way. For instance, Baa, Baa, Black Sheep:

Baa Baa Black Sheep, have you any wool?
Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full.
One for the Iron Man, and one for the Hulk.
And one for the little monsters living in your sock!

And then I’d tickle his feet. He loves it.

And more:

One for Captain America and one for the Wolverine,
And one for the little monsters living in your sock.

One of his favourite songs is the Wheels on the Bus, something that gets a little bit annoying after a very short time:

The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round,
The wheels on the bus go round and round, all through the town.

When I pick up little YY at the daycare I ask him to give me a train’s name. “Thomas!”

OK, it’s Thomas:

Thomas on the bus goes choo choo choo, choo choo choo, choo choo choo,
Thomas on the bus goes choo choo choo, all through the town!

That’s kind of a lot of fun actually. After finishing a bar, I’ll turn back to him and he’ll squeal: “CAPPEN AMERKA!”

OK, so it is, but I must sing the “Captain America” part really fast to keep it in rhythm:

Captain America on the bus goes boom boom boom, boom boom boom, boom boom boom,
Captain America on the bus goes boom boom boom, all through the town!

And with every new name he throws at me – Wolverine, Percy, Scooby Doo – I’ll make up a sound and basically go with it.

All in all, lots of fun. I still don’t get tired of doing it. I guess I’m lucky I can be a kid at heart with my kid. It makes for good times.

Keith MacKenzie

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