Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Violent Bedtime Song = A Bad Mother?

When Emily was born, I was seventeen years old and still had a pretty good singing voice from years of private voice lessons.

I sang to her all the time from the very beginning, and Jim Henson's "The Rainbow Connection" quickly became her favorite (it rose above the soundtrack to both Miss Saigon and The Phantom of the Opera, which she also heard a lot of).  It was her official "lullabye" by the time she was a month old, and I sang her that song every night until she was probably five or six.

I could sing that damn song in my sleep.

When Ari was born, I started singing "The Rainbow Connection" to her when we were still in the hospital.  I was over show tunes by then, so she got a lot of Irish folk songs I listened to with my dad as a kid.  She liked "The Gypsy Rover" and "A Lament for Brendan Behan" and "Four Green Fields" and "The Holy Ground" and tons more, but "The Rainbow Connection" was also the bedtime song.

Leave it to this one to break the mold ...

I tried to continue the trend, I truly did.  From the very beginning, I sang "The Rainbow Connection" to Miss Gabrielle every night.  However, she decided early on that she preferred a different song.

A song about war and violence.

A song with swears (well, "arse" and using "Christ" several times).

A song where a soldier has his legs blown off.

Yup, Gabby's favorite song is "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda" (written by Eric Bogle, but here is Liam Clancy doing it ... this is the version I grew up listening to).

"And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda" is a song about an Australian wanderer being forced to fight in World War I.  After losing both of his legs, he is shipped back home along with the rest of "the armless, the legless, the blind, the insane" and is just grateful that nobody is there waiting for him to get off the boat "to grieve, and to mourn, and to pity".  As the years pass, he sits on his porch each April watching his aging counterparts walk in a parade, noting that, "The young people ask, 'What are they marching for?', and I ask myself the same question."

Yeah, it's kind of a depressing tune, but it's cerebral and empathy-inducing, thought-provoking and characterized by a gorgeous melody.

It also has words that are fun to say, arrangements of letters that feel good rolling off your tongue, even more so when you're singing--Gallipoli, Suvla Bay, billabong, Murray's green basin, outback, waltzing matilda, Australia, quay, hump tent and pegs, and so on.

So here is my dilemma ...

Gabby freaking loves this song.  She freaks out if I don't sing it to her.  The other night when I was out, Jeff played Liam Clancy singing it, and that worked, but she needs that song every night.

Sorry if this is too much information (although I'm pretty sure I crossed that bridge long ago), but I still breastfeed Gabby at night.  On one side, she gets "The Rainbow Connection", but she is clearly in a mad rush to get that one over with, to get to "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda" where she smiles as she nurses (I'd post a pic except, well, nobody needs to see my boob).

So I have three options, I think ...

1. Eliminate that song from our bedtime routine.  I mean, she's going to be picking up the words pretty soon, and I don't think having her run around singing, "For ten weary weeks, I kept myself alive/While around me the corpses piled higher" is the best idea, which leads me to

2. Sanitize the song.  Cut out the particularly violent verses or substitute words for them.

3.  Let it rip as is.  It makes her happy, it's part of her bedtime routine, she loves the song, I love the song, and the world can kiss our butts.

I am torn ...

Oh, Gabrielle ... why couldn't you have just liked "The Rainbow Connection" like your sisters?

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