As I was watching “The GoldenGirls” today, Rose said that when she was scared, her mother would sing to her. Thinking that it was some calming lullaby, Dorothy asked, “What did she sing?” Much to everyone’s surprise, Rose began singing “Over there, over there, send the word, send the word over there that the Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming, the drums drum drumming everywhere. So beware so beware. Send the word send the word over there. We’re coming over. We’re coming over, and we won’t be home ‘til it’s over over there.”
This made me think of the songs that calmed my own children. For one it was sitting in the rocking chair gently rocking as I sang “Irish Lullaby” and “Unchained Melody”, “You’ve Got a Friend” and “Silent Night”. For the other, it was marching up and down the hallway singing “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” Gentleness soothed one while rhythmical movement soothed the other.
What calms your children? We all come to know each child as an individual, know what is reassuring to them as infants. As they grow, though, sometimes we forget that those instincts for calmness, movement, loud or quiet sounds follow them. The same child who was calmed by quiet, soothing lullabies grew to be a peacemaker in the family, calmly discussing everything, understanding everyone’s point of view. Discipline for him was a rational discussion of the rules and consequences. It worked because it suited his personal style. I discovered this one day when he had angered me and I spanked him on his fanny. He looked up at me through clear, three- year-old eyes and asked, “Mommy, do you feel better now?” Never again did I spank him. The other child, the baby lover of rhythm, grew to be first a drummer and then a guitarist and singer. Rhythm continues to be a part of his life. Rational discussion never worked with him as discipline. He needed shock and awe - metaphorically. An occasional harsh “No” and pat on his fanny was all that modified his behavior.
So, as your children grow, remember to look back to those first cues of the sights, sounds, tastes, touches, or smells that soothed them. The people they were foretell the people they will be.