I never used to sing before I had kids. Oh, sure, I was in the chorus for our high school production of “Bye-Bye Birdie” and I belted out a horrendous rendition of Tiffany’s “Could’ve Been” on an audition for the “Rocky Horror Show” once (I didn’t get the part). But otherwise, with the exceptions of my shower and my car — and only then with the radio blasting and my tape of Stevie Nicks wailing “Edge of Seventeen” on full volume — I did not sing.
But once my son was born, and then a few years later, my daughter, I became a singing fool. You see, you give up a lot by way of personal dignity when you have kids. But when you have kids, it doesn’t matter, because for awhile at least, in their impressionable, adulating eyes, you can do no wrong. You are perfect to them. And their smiles, their laughter, are golden to you. You’ll do anything to earn them. I know I sure will. And so I started singing.
And while I started off with the usual nursery rhyme fare, in the last decade or do since my son’s birth, I’ve also become quite the impromptu songwriter, making up lyrics and accompanying tunes about just about everything from tickling armpits to picking noses; from the mundane, like bath time or supper time, to the more odd, like songs about farting. Today I made up a sort of Gregorian-sequence chant about how my son could roll down his car window, hang his wiener out and pee. (Not really of course – it was a song. Creative licensure and all.)
My kids laugh at my goofy little songs. Sometimes, like today with the wiener-out-the-window song, they’ll sing along. Other times they’ll ask for repeat performances of specific tunes, such as my daughter’s favorite, “Anytime’s A Good Time for Girl Time.” Sometimes they roll their eyes when I sing, but those occasions are still pretty few and far between, at least for now. And I still get their laughter and smiles for my rewards.
I owe more to my kids than I ever would’ve imagined possible before having them. The gift of song is just one of many.