Bedtimes in the Thompson house follow pretty much the same routine every night, give or take the odd camping trip or one off late night at the grandparents’. This routine involves bath, hair washing, running around naked when the kids refuse to get in their towels (kids running naked, not parents), dressing son quite calmly, dressing daughter using finely-tuned negotiation skills to make her think there are benefits to her in being clothes for bed. Two stories, one choice each, and, depending on the mood of the parent these can be quite boringly delivered or completely over the top (Rumpus anyone?).
And then we arrive at song time.
Song time has followed the same set of songs since my daughter Aisha was a baby; A few familiar songs and into bed for a round of crying and general grumpiness before sleep takes them.
Recently though, there has been a new addition – the introduction of ‘the car songs’. In adult terms, this means songs from the car.
You see, as well as my sharp wit and magnetic charm, I am also an amazing(ly bad) car singer. Any car journey I’m on, I sing (apart from at traffic lights and in my work car park). And when the kids are in the car with me, I still sing and Aisha has started to join in. Although it took a while for me to realise she was singing along. I used to turn the music down, ask her what she needed, only to be commanded “I’m singing mummy, turn it up”!
The car songs she loves at the moment are Days by Kirsty MacColl and I Have a Dream by ABBA. I think I sang these just once and they stayed in her head so much that I am instructed to sing them every time I’m doing bedtime.
And I love this. I love that both of the kids adore music and singing and different songs. I grew up loving music. I played the flute (pretty well) and piano (pretty badly) and even once played in the steel band at school. My siblings and I were weened on Fleetwood Mac, Barbra Streisand, the Phantom soundtrack, Clannad and other amazing artists. Our musical education was fantastic and our parents still have a lot of the original vinyl albums.
My husband and I try to listen to as much variety of music as we can in order to give our kids a brilliant musical education. So far they seem to be loving it.
I think that nursery rhymes and children’s songs are wonderful for children’s learning about language and life, but I think wider music has a very valid and valuable place too. Providing there is no ‘parental advisory’ sticker on a track, we should let our kids listen to our favourite music. Let them hear different words, sounds, melodies and beats. And let them form their own tastes as they grow up.
Who knows what the music of the future will be but if it’s anything like now, it will be heavily influenced by its ancestors. I think it is important to keep music in our kids lives and let them enjoy as much as we do.