The singing two-year-old is a truly wonderful creature. At the moment, he is composing a ballad about fire engines at the top of his lungs while reading a book called “Garbage Trucks.” His arpeggios are quite impressive, I must say. As he flips through the book, he sings what he must be thinking about: “That’s a snoooow plow; that’s a traaaaaaain. Nung-a-nung-a-nuuuung. Things that goooo!”
I sometimes wonder how he has become this way. I sing occasionally, mostly when I’m feeling really happy, but mostly any music I create is instrumental; my violin does the job, not my voice! Same with his dad, also a violinist and bass guitar player. We’re musicians, but definitely not singers.
Perhaps it’s genetic, because my mother sings all the time. She used to wake me and my sister in the morning by running into our room at 6:30 am, turning on all the lights, and erupting into song: “Rise and shine and give God the glory, glory…” or, worst of all, “Wake up, the rooster’s crowing! It’s time to go to school! Wake up, wake uuuuuupl!” Oh man, did I ever want to decapitate that rooster so it would never crow again. While she did succeed at waking us thoroughly, she also incited irrational rage and subsequent nastiness for the rest of our home-schooled morning.
Mom is the kind of singer who bellows above everyone else. Granted, the 10 people who attend their small country church don’t have much wind left in their lungs to rival her, but she’d drown them out even if they did. She would round up a children’s choir for Christmas each year by sending a letter home with every student in the school. A few kids would show up for practice, attend the final concert, and disappear till the following year. Once I was made the soloist for “Bring a Torch, Jeannette Isabella,” and I had to sing verse #2 in French. I was in grade three and wholly mortified.
Family road trips consisted of the Mennonite hymnal under Mom’s seat and it got whipped out whenever boredom was threatening to set in. Together, my mom, sister, and I would work our way through the favourites while Dad focused on driving. He never sang, never will, just supplies the drone during our (sung) grace at the table. Mom still says it was the greatest disappointment of her life when she was dating my dad and they first went to church, because when he opened his mouth, nothing came out!
Now, whenever Mom comes to visit, she brings along “Sneezepickle’s Songbook,” which the toddler adores. He has memorized quite a few of the songs with their cute lyrics and catchy tunes. Just yesterday, when put down for his afternoon nap, he sang the polar bear song for a good half hour before I intervened: “The roly poly polar bears love dancing in the snow / The north wind blows so they don’t need a fiddle and a bow.” I told him he had to sleep. “But, Mommy, I have to sing!” he protested.
So this is why my son’s constant singing is a source of great curiosity to me. My mom’s love of song has clearly passed through me and into my child. There’s something very beautiful about it, though. The ability to transform spoken words into music is astonishing. Besides, imagine how much more peaceful the world would be if more people broke out into spontaneous song!