When the kids were younger, I worked a Christmas season at Toys R Us, toy store. The main reason was simple…an employee discount day, part way through the season which would give me 20% discount on all toys purchased. In truth I continued working for the retailer until mid June when I pinched my sciatica and could no longer lift, let alone walk very well. However, one of the perks-though some may think of as torture; was listening to the litany of music aimed at kids.
I can assure you, not all children music is created equally.
The kids and I have been recalling some of the songs we used to sing all day long-to get through the long days together. “Mom do you remember that Barney song about the rain?” The doll asked. Immediately, as if on cue, we both began to sing “If all the raindrops were lemon drops and gum drops, oh what a rain that would be…standing outside with our mouths open wide, ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah….” and then found our singing dissolved into giggles. “You know secretly, I hated Barney” the doll tried. “Uh huh, that’s why you were glued to the set when he was on.” I replied. “Mom, I was a baby, where could I go?” She argued as I shook my head.
The boy however maintains he was never interested in such trifle. “Bay, you and I used to have our Baby Songs half hour, don’t you remember?” Looking back at me he replied, “I think you have me confused with one the many nieces and nephews you used to sit for”. “Uh huh, keep thinking that way…” I replied before I grabbed two pencils and began to sing, “Tap your sticks in the air with a 1-2-3, tap your sticks on the ground with 1-2-3…” His face changed as a memory swept through; embarrassed he left the room.
“Do you remember the time we had Elizabeth spend the day with us at the park?” I asked them both. “The doll, who at the time was about four or five replied, “Yes you kept singing that one dumb munch song”. “Do you remember how that song went” I asked, curious to see if they did. “Momma, I made you add a gray wolf to the song, because that was my favorite animal at that time.” The boy added. “Isn’t the gray wolf still your favorite animal?” I asked. “Eh, I like them all” he said. Fair enough. “So do you remember how that song goes?” I asked both kids. In truth, I could only recall bits and pieces of the song and didn’t feel like looking it up on Youtube. “Why?” The doll asked. “I like singing them to Mary Alice”. I explained.
Both kids turned their heads and gave me an odd look. Years ago, I had a conversation with my niece Sharon concerning a study about dementia/Alzheimer’s she came across in which she explained, “Even if Mary Alice, doesn’t remember the exact activities she’s done with you, your visits actually increase her serotonin levels. So she’ll feel happier…” “Mary Alice responds to music…right? So I thought if I could come up with some good old nursery rhymes-funny ones, she might respond to them as well.”” I explained. The doll shrugged her shoulders, while the boy responded by patting me atop the head saying, “Good luck with that” and exited the room.
Somehow my music memory brought most of the song back to the foreground and instead of only singing (badly mind you) 1940’s hit songs like “Pistol Packin’ Momma” on our daily morning walk, I was able to add to our repertoire of songs…”Sitting on the farm, happy as can be, but I had a bug on my knee. I said hey bug, get off my knee. Bug looked up and said no sir-ee. So I picked up my telephone, called my friend the frog at home, said hey frog would you like some lunch, frog came over and munch a munch a munch…” As we walked, Mary Alice laughed at the absurdity of the song and the cavalcade of animals invited over to lunch and even chimed in on the “munch munch munch” portion of the song a few times, making our morning walk all the more enjoyable.
If extremely curious, all songs can be found on You Tube…though if you would like a really bad rendition don’t be afraid to ask the next time you see me…I may just break out in song… raising serotonin levels one bad song at a time.