Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Parenting is Your Chance to Screw Up the Next Generation

Everyone's family is nuts in some way, right? Mine is beautifully normal in all the important areas - loving, generous, supportive, hospitable - and completely crackers everywhere else. Which is why when I started to date Kirk I startled him (and possibly nearly sent him screaming in the other direction) by having a rather unusual habit. It's this thing, see, where someone says something quite innocent and all, and you immediately respond with a song. Kirk even tested me once, and thought he would stump me with "splinter." Poor man had obviously not sung "Clementine" shrilly at top volume over and over and over again.

Yes, I know. Annoying AND embarrassing! It's the perfect personality quirk!

It's not my fault though, my mother whiled away every spare minute, particularly on long road trips, by singing. And as she had memorized the collective works of Peter, Paul and Mary, Pete Seeger, and many, many other artists of the folk-singy-granola bunch her repertoire was extensive. Also it was augmented by a large set of songs-for-kids that mostly take well known and otherwise inoffensive numbers and make them unfit for public use by adding twee or "funny" lyrics, preferably of the infinitely repeating variety.

When we married and had children of our own we were on a long road trip and I, well trained, turned around and started suggesting that the kids sing a particularly awful song along with me. It's not that I wanted to sing, mind you, or that the children did anything but look at me with disdain and disbelief, it's just that in my experience you have to sing on road trips. It's sort of like having a book when you head to the bathroom - it's required. Kirk however looked at me as though I had sprouted something unpleasant from the top of my head.

"What," he asked reasonably, "do you think you're doing?"


"You do know that song is horrible, right?"

"Well... yes."

"You do know that if you sing it it will run around in your head for weeks and you will complain to me the whole time about how you have this stupid song going through your head."

"Well... yes."

"And you also know we're in an enclosed car and none of us can get away from you, right?"

"Um.... yes?"

"So why are you singing?"

I blinked at him for a few seconds and then blurted, "you mean, I don't have to??"

It was a beautiful moment.

However, it didn't cure the root disease of being mentally equipped with far too many obscure, or irritating songs which tend to lurch out of my subconscious at the strangest moments.

It's not all bad though. I sat down today without a clue what I would write about, and the titles of the last two posts stared at me. Sure, now I've got "3 Coins in a Fountain" running lightly through my brain, but on the other hand, I got a post out of it.

EDIT: It's such a waste really that I should have that inspiration on what to write today of all days, because this morning I also got a charming message which is worth a post in and of itself. Clearly it's from someone who loves me deeply. She said:

"abernathy aminobenzoic corpse cure" and

"bestselling bolshoi bernard" and even

"breast axolotl comprehensive alphameric aberdeen breakdown"

Verna Fontenont, whoever you are, you always say the sweetest things.

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