My middle sister (I’m the oldest of three girls) was the first in our family to give Mom and Dad a grandkid, and she remained the only one for two and a half years before Little Miss was born. I remember my sister telling me about singing to her daughter (whom I will call Tinkerbell, since her room is themed with fairies). If Tinkerbell was cranky or fussy, all my sister had to do was start singing – and she didn’t even have to be creative. All she had to do was sing one song – one popular song my sisters and I had grown up singing in church – and Tinkerbell calmed right down.
Apparently when my sister was pregnant she had gotten into the habit of singing to her baby while in the shower. For some reason she could only think of the one song and just sang it over and over again. As a newborn, Tinkerbell recognized the song and instantly grew quiet to listen to the familiar sound of Mommy singing that tune.
I’m a musician (I received a minor in music in college, in both voice and percussion), and the idea of my daughter enjoying music thrilled me – let alone the idea of her enjoying my music! I think I sang to my belly once or twice while pregnant, but I always felt a little silly doing it, and I didn’t want Husband to think I’d gone completely crazy, so I just didn’t do it much.
However, after Little Miss was born, I did a lot of singing. The sound of my voice seemed to soothe her (as the mother’s voice does to most babies), so if I was home alone with her and trying to shower while she laid in a laundry basket outside the shower, I’d sing if she got fussy. It usually bought me a minute or two of extra hair-rinsing and body-washing time.
I tried to implement singing into her naptime and bedtime routines by singing the same songs while rocking her before putting her down in her crib, but it soon became clear that with Little Miss’ personality, simply walking into the room, kissing her, and lying her in the crib and leaving the room promptly was the best method. So that “music routine” died quickly.
But there were still the wee morning hours. When Little Miss would wake up crying and offering her a breast didn’t work, I rocked her and sang softly, almost whispering the words to the first children’s songs I could think of from church as a child. There were only two of them, but I sang them over and over again. As my voice warmed up I could sing a bit louder but still quiet enough that I wouldn’t wake Daddy sleeping in the next room. I’d sing into the darkness and Little Miss would become still, mesmerized by my voice. I’d go through cycles: Five repetitions of the first song, three of the second. Three repetitions of the first song, five of the second.
It didn’t really matter what I sang; sometimes I made up words.
Oh, Little Miss, I’m tired!
I wish you’d let me go to bed!
Your Daddy is so peaceful,
Sleeping on his own…
I wish that I could join him,
And get some shut-eye, too.
Don’t you think it’s time that you
Went back to bed and slept?
She didn’t have any idea what I was saying, but she did know my voice, and it made her feel better. And I loved that my music seemed to be having such a positive effect on my daughter.
Now Little Miss is over 21 months old. She runs, laughs, talks, throws fits, feeds herself, and can take her own clothes off. And she still likes to hear me sing.
There is a “lift-the-flap” book she received from a family whose children are too old for it that is one of her current favourites. Under one flap of this large board book is a star. I made the “mistake” of singing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” when she lifted that flap one evening, and ever since then, she can’t open that flap without asking me to sing the song. Though she doesn’t know what the word for “singing” or “song” is, she does know “star.” So she says “star,” points to my lips and requests, “Doo?” Sometimes we have to do some clever distracting after I’ve sung it five or six times so that I don’t have to sing it another dozen or so times. I took the book to a classical concert to entertain her while I listened to the music a few weeks ago and I had to whisper-sing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” into her ear while sitting in the front row.
She also likes lullabies. I don’t know very many, so I sing the couple I do know, alternating, and it seems to please her. I cradle her like I did when she was a newborn, laying down in my arms, her little blonde head resting peacefully in the crook of my elbow. And she looks up at me and smiles, pointing to my mouth and asking, “Doo?”
And I happily oblige.