Back in high school, the ability to make up silly songs by writing new lyrics to old melodies earned me the nickname 'Ditty Queen'. This skill was later fine-tuned by writing appropriately rude songs in honor of my friends' bachelorette parties. But it's never been quite as handy as it is now that I'm a mother, although admittedly these days the lyrics are far more Mickey Mouse than they are Magic Mike.
Motherhood has made most of what comes out fit to the tune of Camptown Races, probably down to the huge giggle I get in reaction to each hearty 'DOO dah! DOO dah!'. We have quite a repertoire too - gems such as 'Rukai's done a poo again', 'Is it time for you to eat' and the quintessential 'Why won't you just go to bed' are in constant rotation. Chicago friends will appreciate the bedtime lullaby best, which for some strange reason has firmly affixed itself to the tune of a twenty-something year old TV car ad song 'the whole town's talkin about the Webb boys...' I really have no clue how that happened, but alas this will be an early memory for our bubs.
Mornings are most fun of all, and mornings when Rukai decides he's going to be a crab ass all day take the cake. Although I'm not entirely sure it's PC to sing anything to a baby based on the tune of 'What do you do with a drunken sailor', my latest creation just fell out: 'What do you do with a cranky baby'.
'Put him in the bin till it blows over' sung with a smile gets a gummy grin in return as if he's well in on the joke. But what the hell, I suppose it really is best to laugh when you're being deafened by a scream.
We've also got a song for the days of the week, which comes out to that twee singsongy ad lovely 'little boxes on the hillside, little boxes made of ticky tacky...'
Which goes something like: 'Hello Monday, how you doin', haven't seen you since last week, thanks for sunshine, where'd ya hide it cos the weather's been so bad...' Note how the end's got that very important lesson about how crap the weather is here in England. Better we prepare him for it early.
I remember back a few months ago when I was ever so pleased with the bouncy chair bing bong song. Today I realize it only takes 14,832 plays of the similar music living in the crib mobile before you want to chuck it under the nearest express train and smash it to shrapnel. I am so tired of this music I was almost grateful to have partially deafened myself with a q-tip last week but that's an entirely different story.
Anyway and thanksbetogod Rukai is much more keen on the up-tempo: dance music, Mauritian Sega and reggae rule the roost in our house. And I've learned with great joy in the past month or so that Ziggy Marley's Conscious Party looping off the iPod is a far better lullaby than anything coming out of that magic yellow box. I am ever so glad we can mute old Mozzie and run the mobile on its own because aside from the bandanna whizzing around on the ceiling fan that mobile is his favorite thing.
Music has a far more important role to play for us, though, as I secretly hoped and secretly knew it would since I first found out I was pregnant. Since the days le bump was growing, since the days I spurned Mozart for a tinny Stevie Wonder 'Master Blaster' played through a headphone into my navel. I need Rukai to love music. I need music to light him up and lift him. And oh man, it does. It so does.
In the same section of kitchen where I used to bop around with my bump, I park the ditties up in my head and pop on some real tunes. I hoik him on my shoulder, grab his left hand with my right and we dance like no one is watching. And he could stay up there for weeks, rocking and swaying, chin on my shoulder or bobbling in the air, steadier each day he grows stronger. His huge brown eyes scan his surroundings, mouth in an excited 'O', taking it all in.
As for the music, I know he loves it but more importantly I know he remembers it. I know I have been doing something amazing for him since he was on the other side of the belly.
'When you're moving in the positive, your destination is the brightest star,' says Stevie.
Rukai bops along.
We'll be jammin until the break of dawn.