by Jocelyn Jane Cox
Welcome to the Chronicles of Parenting by local author, freelance writer, blogger and parent-of-toddler Jocelyn Jane Cox. Read on for advice you never knew you needed and the chuckles you know you really need, tailored to those who live in the Great State of Parenthood.
For over a year, I have been taking music classes with our 2.5 year old. Not only have we met a lot of great people in these classes, we have become an internationally-acclaimed mother-son singing sensation on YouTube. Okay, that second part isn’t true…YET. But the experience has been enriching and I highly recommend doing this even if (and maybe especially if) the concept makes you a little nervous. Here are the best reasons to take a music class with your kid, according to me, a person who should probably lip sync the Happy Birthday song at parties:
- Singing is good for the soul. Take it from me, using your vocal chords in new and unique ways can have a positive effect on the mood. And there might be other excellent distractions, like using your own stomach as a bongo or holding drum sticks up to your head as if they’re antennae. These will (at least temporarily) help you forget about that annoying situation at work or that pile of bills on your kitchen table.
- We should all do things that make us uncomfortable once in a while. Even if you cannot carry a tune and have a sense of rhythm that can best be classified as “experimental,” this is a safe place to loosen up a bit. Children under the age of four probably won’t notice that you’re off-key and off-beat and the other parents in the room will be too busy corralling their own budding (or roaming) musicians to care. True, your “performance” might hit the teacher’s ears like nails on a chalkboard, but these professionals are experts at pretending otherwise.
- Instruments, like bongo drums, xylophones, and bells are a great way to get your aggression out. Likewise, they provide an outlet for any unfulfilled rock star fantasies from your past. For example, if you ever imagined yourself as the lead maracas player for Sleater-Kinney, this is the perfect place to act this out. If you really want to impress (or, horrify?) the teacher and the other parents, I highly recommend wiping the sweat off your brow at the end of class and exclaiming, “Great jam session, everybody!”
- This is a rare opportunity to dance with other people. When was the last time you got to do that, other than at a wedding? Sure, dancing in celebration of someone’s nuptials is a hoot, as long as you can ignore the dress shoes pinching your feet and the fancy clothes constricting your lungs. Imagine how refreshing it is to get your “groove on” while wearing socks and yoga pants on a Wednesday morning. The only caveat is that if the room has a mirror, you may catch a glimpse of your party moves…and you may not be so pleased with what you see. Keep in mind that your adorable child, boogie-ing in your arms or at your feet, takes all the emphasis off you.
- You might get a takeaway CD. You might at first stuff this in your glove compartment and instead keep listening to your own beloved radio station. At some point, however, there will be a long car trip during which you will not only thank heaven for these melodic gifts, but you will belt them out with your kid in a state of gleeful abandon, amazed by how fast the trip goes with this on repeat. Of course, once your child knows about this CD, there will be no turning back; it may be the only thing you listen to in the car with him for the next three years.
- If you have a baby monitor, you may get to overhear your kid in the crib, singing these songs he has learned, or approximating them, or revising them purposely in an extremely entertaining fashion. And there goes your overly-active imagination again: picturing him in the distant future winning a Grammy, a Tony, or a lead role at the Metropolitan Opera.
- The best thing about taking a music class with your kids is seeing children (your own and others) rock-out in their own specific and quirky ways: bouncing, jumping, clapping, twisting, and stomping to the music. Even if they don’t ever end up on Broadway — or even in the Jr High Orchestra — their smiles and un-selfconscious laughter will be worth any awkwardness you may feel around your own musicality.
We have been taking a class with the amazing Catherine Rubin as part of the national/international Music Together organization. This is not a sponsored post, but I endorse this program wholeheartedly and I know there are many other wonderful music programs out there, and many offered at local libraries and community centers.
Jocelyn Jane Cox is a freelance writer and author. Her 2012 humor book on life in the New York suburbs, The Homeowner’s Guide to Greatness: How to handle natural disasters, design dilemmas and various infestations, is available on Amazon.com. Follow her on Twitter at @JocelynJaneCox.
The Chronicles of Parenting is sponsored by The Palisades Center, your one-stop-shop for fun. Come to the Palisades Center for Munchkin Mondays, childrens’ concerts in the East Court. See the complete schedule of events at PalisadesCenter.com.