Sharon, Lois & Bram (a famous Canadian children’s musical trio, in case you don’t know them) have been blasting on repeat for over a week now. The old album from the ’90s that I got out of the library has 31 tracks and we’ve nearly memorized them all. Little A. sits for long minutes on end, riveted by the music. He has gradually learned the order of all the songs and calls out their names in anticipation. He jumps up to get me for certain ones, shouting, “This is my best one!” (by which he means favourite.) The tunes are stuck in my head because they’re actually quite catchy. It’s a bit embarrassing to catch myself singing about peanut butter and jelly while driving down the road, but I suppose that goes with the territory.
A’s obsession with the CD has gotten to the point where he wakes up in the night, crying for it. He asks for it to “help me get to sleep” and it’s an instant hook to convince him to come in from playing outside. I don’t always oblige — never with the nighttime requests because there’s only so much I can handle — but he does spend so much time listening to it, fully attentive, that I began to worry. He is sedentary for such surprisingly long lengths of time that it’s utterly out of character.
When my sister Sarah and brother-in-law Peter arrived for a visit last weekend, however, they put my worries at bay. She’s a professional cellist and he’s a fabulous pianist, so music plays a huge role in their life, and they thought it was absolutely wonderful that A. was spending so much time focusing on music. “It’s very important for kids to listen to music, and even better if they’re that focused on it,” my sister reassured me. “Just think how you’re getting his ears accustomed to Western musical norms!” Interesting — I’ve sometimes wondered at how different cultures consider particular sounds and harmonies beautiful. I suppose she’s right about it starting young.
Then Sarah reminded me of the countless hours she and I spent listening to music as kids. The CD player was the closest thing we had to effortless entertainment, with no TV in the house, so we often sat on the couch and listened intently to story tapes and music. Mom had an old tape called “Greatest Hits of 1720.” Sounds fabulous, eh? It was. It had all the good old hits like Pachelbel’s Canon, a bunch of Bach, some Corelli and Mouret. Sarah and I got into the slightly morbid habit of putting on the tape, sitting ourselves down, and weeping for Grandpa who had died before we knew him. He was the only dead person we knew of at that point in our little lives and the music was so melancholy that we were moved to the point of tears, every single time. I remember my mom once pulling over the car because I was sobbing so hard for Grandpa in the back seat. She insisted on turning off the tape and that made me cry even harder. I doubt the tape would have the same effect on me now, but who knows — I haven’t heard it in a long time.
So I suppose it’s a good thing for my normally energetic, incessantly inquisitive three-year-old to be utterly entranced by “Little Rabbit Foo-Foo,” “Tingalayo,” and “Skinnamarink.” The neurons in his brain are likely popping around at a speed I can’t comprehend as he absorbs this new and exciting world of children’s music. I’ll be picking up some more CDs, though, just to have a bit more variety. Thirty Sharon, Lois & Bram songs five times a day gets to be a bit much for me.