Kid Music is Crushing My Soul

A couple months ago I made a fatal error while driving with the Nugget. He was on the brink of a car seat melt-down as two years olds are wont to do, and being the tired, old mom I am, I sought a quick fix. As I glanced down, I saw at my fingertips, a CD from his music class. I’d never bothered to pop it in before but had hopes it might sooth the savage beast. It worked, but since that day the chubby dictator in my backseat has been holding us all hostage with demands for his, and only his, music.

Any parent that has successfully reared a child through toddlerhood is aware of the horrors of kid music. Barney, The Wiggles, Raffi, the list of horrors goes on and on. I personally remember demanding a particular rendering of “Rubber Duckie You’re the One” brought to life by the nasal voice of Ernie, over and over long before I could put the needle on the record. (Yes, I’m that old you young whippersnapper!)

With Number One Son I suffered though a series of ditties performed by Turkish Muppet-like creatures from the show Benimle Oynar Misin? (Won’t you Come and Play With Me- for you non-Turkish speakers.) Seven years later I’m still singing one tune in Turkish about the phone ringing every time my damn phone rings. (P.S., in Turkish the phone goes vhir-vhir. It doesn’t really but it’s kind of like how in Turkish the dog says how how how. You know the Turks, they’ve no need to conform to your standards. That’s how they roll.) Thankfully when we moved to America we discovered Yo Gabba Gabba, which was far less nerve grating. I still sing their classic, There’s a Party In My Tummy, every time I have a good meal. Now that’s a musical masterpiece.

But the Nugget’s music is killing me. His taste is horrible. I blame his father, the grown-ass man with the musical taste of a tween girl. I’ve tried to subject him to some more funkily tolerable kiddie tunes but he’ll have none of it. He’s got his jams and those are the only ones he will allow, but his jams have become rather redundant.

Last week the Turk was departing for Home Depot with the boys in tow. As he got into the car I informed, “Track 27 is the one you’ll need.”

He gave me that look that says, ah hells no, and replied, “No. I will not listen to that crap.” (Who are you to judge, old man with One Direction on your gym playlist?)

I gave him that look that said, fool please and replied, “Good luck with that.”

Upon their return the Turk looked battle ragged. “Well?” I prodded knowing exactly the horror he’d faced.

“I don’t understand. Why that song and why is Sam the Dinosaur scared of the mouse? He is big. That song is stupid.”

Indeed.

Recently I made yet another bonehead move and got him a new CD at the library. It’s the soundtrack to his favorite show, Signing Time. Signing Time on it’s own is a brilliant series developed out of necessity by a mom of a deaf kid. (All great things can somehow be tracked back to moms.) It uses perky kid songs to teach ASL. (Full disclosure: I, and many other hearing loss moms credit the show to our own ASL retention.) The songs are catchy but repetitive so you can practice the signs again and again in time with the music. It’s about the only reason we have Netflix as Nugget watches it constantly.

Since we got the new CD the moment we near the car, he signs ‘I want Signing Time music.’ Listening to the tunes on constant replay was bad enough but now he demands I sign along. Now to you parents of hearing kids, you might not know the dangers of signing while driving but I’m here to tell you, it’s a risky venture.

First off, many signs require two hands, a move not compatible with operating a motor vehicle. I almost took out a minivan in the school lane last week during the Days of the Week song. Damn two-handed Sunday.

Next, there is the whole turning around to figure out what your backseat passenger is trying to tell you. I’d been nearly running off the road  repeatedly for months before I learned that car companies actually make special mirrors compatible to your car for signing passengers. Who knew? (This is why the state assigns you a deaf mentor from the get go to help you navigate. Points for you Hoosiers.)

And finally, there is the offensive misconception issue. When you are driving along and see some broad in a car with no visible passenger gesturing rapidly, the automatic assumption (as I’ve recently learned) is that she is flipping you off in an act of road rage. Trucks full of landscapers are hard pressed to believe you’re doing the Won’t You Be My Friend? song in sign language for an unseen toddler. (In some situations you will need to produce said toddler to prevent escalation. Trust me.)

The moral of the story is, maybe someday Nugget will be able to speak, maybe not. We just don’t know but either way, he’s a music nut and the best we can hope for is that in time his musical taste will develop as well. My hope is that if I keep peppering his crap music with a bit of mine, eventually he’ll understand and leave the dark side. It hasn’t worked with his father and his older brother has been making us watch him Whip and Nene for months, but there’s always hope for the younger generation.

dancing

Why Is There No Cher In Toddler Music Class?

“Get him in a music class to help his development,” they said.

“He will love it,” they said.

“You’ll both have fun,” they said.

Ha.

I suck at music. Sure, I was a mediocre clarinetist in the 5th grade and an unexceptional saxophonist in the high school band but 30 years later I can admit that I stunk. I was often tragically off beat. I had a hard time remembering fingerings (not to mention every time someone said that word – fingerings- I giggled like a twelve year old boy-hehehehe). In marching band I spent a lot of time faking it because I just wasn’t coordinated enough to march in formation while simultaneously reading music and blowing and fingering (hehehe) a giant saxophone. Who does that? It’s really hard.

What about my vocal skills you ask? Well, back in 6th grade I was an exceptional vocalist, so exceptional that I was pushed into the elite, members only group known as – Special Choir. It was an exclusive group where only the best were allowed to wear the gold cotton poncho with the glittery wreath at the 1983 Christmas concert. At least that’s what we were told. It was later revealed that if you could hit the high notes and arrive at school early for practice, you were in. To be honest, what freaking 6th grade girl doesn’t have a voice squeaky enough to reach the high notes?

And that, my dear readers, sums up my musical career. With the exception of a few Cosmo-induced Material Girl performances in NYC gay bars and a stunning performance of classic Cher on Fire Island with a couple drag queens, I put my musical dreams to rest in 1990, thus the reason you’ve never seem my musical stylings on Itunes.

Fast forward 90 years and I have this little half-deaf kid who doesn’t talk but is obsessed with music. He demands his music on every car ride (and his taste is questionable.) He hums show-tunes 24/7. If he wants pineapple, he hums the theme to Sponge Bob. If he see’s anything Star Wars, he hums the Darth Vader theme. He’s got a million tunes but not a single word, thus his team of professionals suggested using music to get him talking. Little did they know what kind of hell they were suggesting for me.

I was reluctant to sign up for music class because A: I’m not a fan of organized toddler activities/mommy-one-up-contests and B: as noted above, I suck at music. As an old mom, I’ve already been though my fair share of story times, kiddie classes, kinder-sports and what not. When we moved back to America with a toddler in tow, I was certain that I needed to enroll him in everything to make up for his years in Turkey. My idealistic dreams were soon dashed as every class was filled with “Look what my kid can do!” moments from annoying mothers desperate for mothering validation. (Ladies, if you’re looking for a pat on the back for trudging the same crap-trail the rest of us are on, I’m not your girl. If you want me to be impressed with what you perceive to be your toddler’s advanced skills, again, I’m not your girl. If you want to sit in the corner and mock the masses, call me. I’m there.) Anyhoooo, this time around from the onset I vowed, no toddler classes. I’m too old to censor myself and felt it was for the best society if I avoided them.

Alas, in my current, anything-to-help-my-Nugget mode, I relented and agreed, just this once. Now for the past four weeks I’ve found myself in some kind of cardio-pump meets Mr. Rogers Neighborhood class from hell led by a perky teacher who must constantly remind the group of lily-white Hoosiers where the down-beat falls while desperately trying to find her pitch. Her lessons come directly from the textbook and CD we were given upon registration and she absolutely will not stray from those mandated tunes. I tried but she found no humor in my request to “mix it up with a little Skynard.” Miss Jeanine and her music class are a little too corporate for me.

All of this gave me an idea. Perhaps as a tone-deaf, musical failure I should develop music classes for my kind of people. You know, a music class for old moms with a bad attitude who feel pressured to teach their kids about the important elements of music. We can bang on pans and sing along with Metallica so they learn the importance of metal. We can rage while playing shaker eggs to the Sex Pistols to expose them to the freedom of classic punk. We’ll teach of longing as we all wish we had Jesse’s Girl and we’ll work on their numbers starting with 867-5309. Most importantly, we will teach the importance of classical music by executing free-range choreography to early Cher. What child would want to sing about being a little teapot when they could be Gypsies Tramps and Thieves? You know that answer – no one.

Would it work? Maybe, maybe not, but I’m quite certain it was my early exposure to Cher that made me what I am today and from that I’ve developed my potential music course catch phrase – “Cher The Music- Every Child Deserves to Be Fabulous.”

What to you think? Should I sign you up?

Turkish musicians