But from then on the music changed. How did it start? A soft lullaby sung to a sleeping baby in the rocking chair, back and forth? Or listening again, thirty years on, to the now digitally remastered folky nursery rhyme album (with Tim Hart and Maddy Prior) that I had as a child? Or the desperate repetition of ‘Twinkle twinkle, little star’ barely audible over the inconsolable cries of the new-born in the car seat on the main road with nowhere to pull over for another 8 seconds at least…?
We certainly got used to the Tim Hart album. It became the default, comfortable one the children knew backwards. It went round and round and round and we thought it would drive us to insanity.
Until imperious cries of ‘Grand Duke of York!’ and ‘Again!’ came from the back of the car and the one track went round and round and round and we thought that would drive us to insanity.
Until imperious cries of ‘Again!’ were challenged with ‘No, don’t want that one! Want Ba Ba sheep!’ and then our brains just went round and round and round and we reached the insanity anyone with two or more toddlers must reach at some point.
We have sung endless verses of ‘Here we go round the mulberry bush’ because sometimes ‘This is the way we change the nappy, brush the teeth, put on clothes, [insert daily routine…]’ is the only way we have half a chance of getting out of the house before lunchtime.
We do action songs, silly voices, loud, soft, quickly, slowly. We bang drums, clap hands, shake shakers. We have spent nearly three years singing, singing, singing. I like to think that even if it is ‘The wheels on the bus’, it’s still good for our souls.
A musician I know said, ‘you sing to them every day? Then you’ll get it all back, you know’. And I realised he was right when, at two-and-a-half, Luna sat at the piano and sang and played ‘Baa baa, black sheep’ all the way through. She does the same on her ukulele – singing and strumming through one nursery rhyme or another. She’s playing her own choice of notes – maybe one day she or her brother will play the traditional tunes. And maybe not.
But if muddling through the first few years of our children’s lives is some sort of ‘process’, then I can safely say that repeatedly singing a very narrow range of the simplest and oldest and seemingly most nonsensical tunes has been a major ‘Part of the Process’. And perhaps in the end it will be what saves our sanity.