April 21st, 2007

Reader Question: What Kind of Music does Jack Like?

(with props to Nicki)

When Jack was little, the only thing that could get him to stop screaming his head off was the Forest Gump soundtrack. Andy and I spent many an early morning dancing around the room to “You Ain’t Nothin’ but a Hounddog” and “Fortunate One” by Creedence. So there’s that, which is rather cool. But then, there’s also the Wiggles CD. Before I had a kid, I never would have imagined that I would own a CD in which the lead song’s sole lyrics repeatedly drone, “Fruit Salad. Yummy. Yummy. Fruit Salad. Yummy. Yummy.” Jack’s old daycare, however, would play this album incessantly, and Jack learned all of the songs and would smile when his favorites came on and the next thing you know, I’ve purchased a copy and have a favorite character in the group.

Andy plays a lot of Grateful Dead, and Jack loves Sugar Magnolia (especially the “Doo do do” part at the end) and will spin in circles through the whole thing, which, given the fact that Grateful Dead songs last a good 20 minutes each, is quite a feat. We sing an altered “Mack the Knife” to him while we brush his teeth ("When the shark bites, with his teeth babe, and he keeps them pearly white...it’s a good time, to brush your teeth dear, and you keep them oh-so-bright"), and he’ll fill in the lines of the song on cue.

Despite all of this, however, I sometimes wonder whether or not he’ll be “musical.” Not that I would care either way, but before I had him, I had this sense that I could kind of mold my child into a certain “type” of person. So, if I liked to sing, I’d just sing a lot, and my child would sing too. That kind of thing. I’ve since learned that kids can come with their own agendas, and it seems that we get to do a lot less molding and a lot more running to catch him as he leaps off the windowsill he shouldn’t have been climbing in the first place.

I come from a pretty music-friendly upbringing. My dad was always singing, mostly Top 40 music from his youth (this explains why I can sing obscure Beach Boys lyrics and get all verklempt at “Dawn, Go Away I’m No Good For You"). I seem to have inherited the impulse to sing random things and have always got a tune running through my head. Jack, on the other hand, sings most of the time in private. He’s more vocal in general when there isn’t an audience. In his crib in the morning, before he calls out to us to come get him, we can hear him singing and talking to himself, almost like he’s practicing the sounds and the words. He likes to dance at home, too, though I can tell that he sometimes feels a little uncomfortable, like he doesn’t want anyone to look at him. In public, he’s starting to exhibit a more reserved side, and if we take him to a music show, he’ll stay close by and off to the side, not quite ready to jump in with the other kids and dance it up.

It’s surprising in a way, to see this kind of self-consciousness taking shape. And it’s really cool too, because I think it’s a sign that he’s determining his limits, trying to figure things out, and staking out his comfort zone. There’s something inside of him that tells him to hang back and watch and listen, even though his parents are encouraging otherwise.

Already and right from the start, he’s got his own rhythm and follows the beat of his own drummer.


Posted by: Sarah on April 21st, 2007
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