As a BT, and a BT woman who always liked to sing, I’m a bit frustrated. Of course the outlets for women singers (not that I was ever a professional but I’ve been told I have a perfectly trainable voice) are few and far between. So I’ve resigned myself to singing in my home, for my children. I sing some nice tunes I’ve heard for Modeh Ani and make up new words for songs I know to motivate my kids to get out of bed, get dressed, hold my hand while crossing the street, bring me something on the other side of the room, and various other daily living activities. My 5 year old is constantly mesmerized by the fact that I know so many different songs. I’m sure my old friends would be cringing at the latest household lyrics I’ve written to various Beatles tunes, etc., and my daughter always wants to know where I learned the latest song. “I heard it as a kid” I just tell her, knowing that someday it will become obvious to her that I didn’t grow up like her listening to the best of Uncle Moishe and Mordechai Ben David.
My daughter’s music teacher just called to thank me, and my daughter, for providing her the funniest teaching moment of her 2007-08 school year. Morah Miri is trying to teach the kindergarten all about sukkot through some new songs she’s written. She says to the group, “I’m going to play a tune on the piano, and if you know the tune, tell me what it is.” She begins to play, “Take Me Out To the Ballgame.” My daughter raises her hand. “You know this tune?”
Shira Leah nods.
M: “What tune is it?”
SL: “Take Me Out of the Bathtub.”
M: “Take Me Out of the Bathtub? Who sings that?”
SL: “My mother!”
Now, I’m sure I’m not the only mother who sings funny songs to get their kids moving when they need to. I think its much more effective and fun for everyone than screaming. I admit I’ve done my share of that too. I also do my 5 minute increment count-down to carpool, starting from when they wake up, encouraging them to be dressed and downstairs in plenty of time so they can “Have Breakfast Like a Mensch”. There is nothing more rewarding to a mom than have kids whining “Imma, I need your help getting dressed because I want to have breakfast like a mensch!” They know this means sitting at the table properly having their cereal and milk and warm drink or cold milk. And, of course, fighting over who got more wheat germ on their cereal.
But what to tell our kids about where we got these songs? Or do we not bother telling them? I’m so plagued by the truth that I feel a little dishonest in not giving full disclosure. “Imma used to listen to the secular radio and had record albums (ok we’ll have to explain that) of these music stars, but we don’t listen to them anymore because their messages aren’t for a bas Yisroel, Imma just didn’t know any better at the time.” Not quite. Ideas, anyone?
Originally Posted 11/14/2007