Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sing along to gibberish

They say music hath the power to soothe even the snarling beast, but it can also rouse the gentle one - though describing Sonny as "gentle" is probably a stretch.

Way back in May, with Sonny less than a month old, we had discovered that the little fella could be lulled into somnolence by crooning made-up ditties (click here for that post), even if it was possibly the attendant rocking action that was a crucial factor. Anyway, the practice fell by the wayside over time, replaced by Mum's attempts to introduce Sonny to the world of nursery rhymes, with less than stellar success.

Recently, however, we've found that the young 'un's musical bent has not eroded. Turns out the best way to get him loudly cheery is to balance him so he's almost standing up and begin singing a hearty marching tune. After a stanza or two, he will begin to yelp along enthusiastically. It's not a particularly pretty noise that he emits, and coyotes howling at the moon are more melodious, but it's uplifting to see him having a good time belting out a gibberish classic or the latest baby talk hit. Since the activity does grate, we've never deliberately extended it just to see how long he'd be content to continue torturing everyone's ears. There's been little sign of flagging energy, though: Indeed, he looks as though he can't wait to start bashing away at pots and pans to keep time.

We're aware, of course, that we could be blithely fanning what could become a nasty flame that burns away our quiet time forever. Still, musical leanings should be encouraged, we think. It certainly beats sucking one's thumb (but don't get Pa started on that) or trying to swallow anything that crosses your path. There's also the fact that both Mum and Pa spent several formative years learning the piano and so are fairly well-disposed towards the playing of musical instruments. And this, after all, is to stumble upon a terribly important aspect in a child's development. Babies come pre-packaged with a host of predilections: Adults can only help to selectively encourage them if they know something about the relevant subject matter. A child may be artistic, for instance, or physically gifted in some way. Yet a completely ignorant parent would simply ignore the signs or might even try to innocently snuff them out.

The foregoing implies, if you think about it, that parents have a standing duty to bone up on as many things as possible, so as to be able to recognise childish interests and guide them accordingly - even if it is to steer Junior to a teacher or coach. We could, of course, sit on one's haunches and trust to dedicated staff at school or kindergarten to talent-spot. But that seems just a tad irresponsible.

Call it a discordant note in the symphony of child-rearing.