Come out, come out, wherever you are

The first baby I met who wasn’t me was my oldest niece. I didn’t sing to her until she was a grownup.

We were close in age so I didn’t do much more than stare at her for about eight months and wonder what in hell she was thinking or doing.

I do remember one time, before she started to walk, she crawled really fast down a long hallway of the apartment where they lived. So I crawled with her. And she laughed. That’s when I decided I’d love her.

But I didn’t sing to her until Salt n Pepa came out with Shoop and gave me something to sing to her. Now, if it comes on and I’m near her, you can bet your ass Ima Shoop at her. My niece is my witness.

When my next niece was born I decided it was okay to sing to babies because babies don’t care if you are good at it. This niece seemed to like me no matter what I did, so I sang things like Fairies Wear Boots and Highway to Hell at her.

When my son was born, I sang Mississippi Mud to him. He was colicky. Not from my singing.

My mom discovered the magic of that song for him one night while she babysat. She’d walk with him, back and forth through the living room of my apartment. Singing, walking, rocking, bouncing. And he stopped crying.

This is when I decided the magic of music had very little to do with the vocal ability of the singer- the magic of music is the music itself. My mom could sing her curtains off. With me, it’s a toss up.

The words of a song when you sing them, if you believe the lyrics will calm a crying baby- the baby will believe it too. My mom showed me how a song can change the mood of a room.

A song can change the mood of the person singing, too.

My mom always said, “Don’t shush me when I’m singing. It means I’m happy.”

My dad would hear her sing and say, “Listen to that. Your mom is happy.”

When my daughter was little I sang Under the Bridge to her. Or Where Did You Sleep Last Night.

At bedtime, I’d sing to both of them. Dream a Little Dream. Wishing on a Star.

I sang Down in the Willow Garden a few times and decided it was best to just hum that one. A song about a murdered girl, no matter how sweetly sung, is still a song about a murdered girl.

With the oldest grandgirl I sang Waiting for My Ruca, By the Rivers of Babylon, and I Love My Baby & My Baby Loves Me.

But the one song she would not sleep without was Glinda the Good Witch’s song.

Come out, come out, wherever you are…

Once, when she was sobbing great buckets from missing her granny, my daughter called me up and said, “She won’t stop crying until you sing the song,”

And meet the young lady who fell from a star…

I sang it. And my grandgirl’s tears stopped and I kept singing until she was all the way asleep. And when I hung up the phone, I sobbed great buckets.

This next bit I’m just going to hum because it’s a secret… I miss having someone to sing to.


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Hansel's sister.

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