This old post over at Jim’s music blog reminded me that I want to write about singing to my daughter. Jim’s post is about the Dismemberment Plan. Despite the fact that I don’t have their first record – actually, I don’t even know how many records they have, I have two of them – I consider them one of my favorite bands. I love how off-kilter the music is, and yet strangely no off-kilter. I love the dissonance, and I love the melodies, and I love how sometimes the dissonance resolves into melodies and sometimes it doesn’t. I also love the singing. I sometimes sing “Life of Possibilities” to my daughter.

She seems to like falsetto and high pitched singing. I’m not sure but I think she also likes big pitch changes. Both of those make a good one for her.

Actually, I said I sing “Life of Possibilities” to her but really I sing parts of it to her. Among the things I’ve learned about myself so far in my as yet short stint as a dad is that I’m surprisingly crap at remembering songs (other things I’ve learned, that I can recall off the top of my head: my ability to function on next to zero sleep is even better than I thought, but my ability to not get crabby on zero sleep is not as good as I thought; I am pretty much not at all grossed out about stuff in relation to my daughter that would otherwise gross me out; though I said my ability to function without sleep is better than I thought, there are specific things that are surprisingly hard no sleep – I noticed a few years ago that my rate of typos and especially of dislexic switching around of letters goes way, way up after just one beer or when I’m even a little bit tired, I’ve now found out that shopping in an unfamiliar grocery store or any other unfamiliar store when I’m tired is surprisingly hard and disorienting). This song thing surprises me because I am a major music lover, I’m really quite good at memorizing song lyrics to speak them and at figuring out what the lyrics to songs are when I hear them, I take lyrics really seriously (lyrics are pretty much a make or break element in songs for me, though not as much as they were when I was younger), and I listen to music a lot. But to sing songs to my daughter? I totally forget basically everything, if I’m lucky I’ll get halfway through. It’s because remembering a song is not the same as remembering lyrics, it’s remembering a tune AND the lyrics. I can sometimes remember the tune (though I have trouble staying in key), and usually remember the lyrics, but can almost never remember the two together. Unless I’m listening to the song, then I’m golden. On my own though, to just sing, that’s really hard. Weird.

Songs I sing to my daughter:
bits of “Life of Possibilities”
the old labor tune “We have fed you all for a thousand years”
“Tournament of Hearts” by the Weakerthans – I think that’s the one, the one with the references to curling, I actually can only get to about the first chorus.
“Our Retired Explorer” and “Confessions of a Futon Revolutionist” also by the Weakerthans, I can do those two pretty much in their entirety.

I’ve got a playlist on the computer of songs I can sing along to with to sing to her. Sometimes I dance with her to them, I hold her sort of like a football – I call it the super-baby hold because it’s sort of like she’s flying. I put her facedown on my fore arm, head in my hand (holding her by her jaw and cheekbones, unless she turns her head to the side), legs and arms sort of wrapped around my arm. I use my other hand to stabilize her back or neck/back of the head. The hold lets me dance pretty vigorously with her, which she likes. Eventually I’ll type up that playlist or see if I can figure out how to export the titles from itunes (any tech help out there?). That hold also has some positive thing about her digestive tract, lets her stretch out or whatever. I can’t remember the details, the nurse or midwife told me when we were still in the hospital and both exhausted and high on new-baby-ness.

Mostly I don’t sing songs to her though. I was whistling to her. I’m often trying to burp her – not to brag, but I think I’m a bit better at burping than my wife is – which means patting her pretty strongly on the back. (Those of you who are in touch with me via facebook can see videos of her, in one I’m rolling her on the baby ball – another nurse/midwife tip for a gassy baby, or maybe that one’s from the doula – and I’m patting her back, I was surprised watching the video at how loud my patting her on the back sounded! And speaking of facebook, setting aside many criticisms that could be made, it’s proven a great way for us to let loved ones far away get to see the baby more than they would otherwise. That’s a really nice thing for us to have, as people who live far from some many dear friends and family.) I was whistling then I was whistling using the back-patting as a beat. Then I thought, hell if I can just make up tunes and stuff randomly whistling then why can’t I do that singing? So I started doing that. Sometimes I make up words to little tunelets, others times I just sort do oh’s and ah’s and do-do-do and so on. It’s really fun actually, and she seems to like it a lot. Again, particularly if it’s high pitched or falsetto, or with big pitch changes. I like to joke that she’s tone deaf, because she likes my singing.

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