Long ago I became resigned to my musical genius never being appreciated in my own lifetime.
I’m delighted to report that unhappy situation is now remedied; my son LOVES my singing. My heartbreaking ear-splitting voice screech raised in song yowl makes him smile grimace, soothes him shuts him up, lulls stuns him to sleep.
Being unacquainted with nursery rhymes or anything even vaguely age-appropriate, I’ve exposed Finn to an eclectic selection of Bruce Springsteen, Linkin Park, an assortment from Boney M’s back catalogue, ‘Oh Baby Boo’ sung to the tune of ‘Danny Boy’, and various hymns (indeed).
After some trial and error I discovered ‘All Out of Love’ by Air Supply was the most effective at stopping Finn crying – or drowning him out. On one of our first car-trips as a family, with Finn bawling his lungs out in the back seat, Andrew and I discordantly roared back:-
I’m lying alone!
With my head on the phone!
Thinking of you till it hurts!
I figure you’re never too young to learn about the agony of heartache. Although I’ve often thought the pain described by the lyrics above is most likely due to using a telephone as a pillow, and could be easily remedied by taking a couple of Panadol for the melodrama.
(Yes, I know the lyrics to ‘All Out of Love’. The only comment I have to make on the matter is that my mind is a prodigious repository of arcania and bizarre words. I may struggle to recall our house address, but I can recite the lyrics of any Neil Diamond hit circa early seventies.)
I used to hum ‘Lara’s Theme’ from Dr Zhivago to send Finn to sleep, until I realised he prefers the Irish National Anthem. The big surprise is that I remember the words – in Irish. No idea what they mean. In essence, I believe it’s about the British being a bunch of bastards.
Apart from inciting hatred, the national anthem is a musical expression of Finn’s cultural heritage – and also a slice of social history. Because back in the eighties, when I was a teenager, the national anthem was played at the end of every disco. It was the most brutally effective way of getting rid of people. The lights would snap on and we’d all freeze, bright red and shiny, blinking stupidly, ears buzzing; the boys with beer-stains down their fronts and lipstick smeared up to their ears; the girls with soggy perms and mascara exploded down their faces, trying not to catch the eye of the boy who’d dry-humped their leg all through ‘Eternal Flame’ – because that song lasts even longer than the flame.
Then, swaying earnestly in a rolling sea of beer bottles, plastic cups, peanut packets and soggy crisps, we’d put our hands on our hearts and sing the national anthem.
Ah, happy days.
Since starting SPACE I’ve learned some nursery rhymes, but I’ve also started composing my own songs for my son. And we’ve had some team efforts:-
Me (in the bathroom): I know an old lady who swallowed a shoe!
Andrew (with Finn in the bedroom): Now, what do you do? If you swallow a shoe?
Me: You shit it out the sphincter, la la lalala.
We’re having a blast.