When I had kids, I started singing. All of a sudden, just like that.
No, silly, not right there at the hospital after birth! (What a mental image!)
Poco a poco, as my Spanish teacher would’ve said. It was unsuspected and entirely unplanned.
Somewhere from the furthest, dustiest corner of my brain, a song simply emerged one day. And then it was followed by another.
At first, I only remembered faint lines.
Feeling my way in the dark, I slowly added more and more details to what I had at first recalled.
Sometimes my memory started at the very beginning, sometimes at the middle. Nursery rhymes and Christmas songs came out, all in English.
I sang to my two tiny babies to entertain them. I sang to let them hear my voice. I sang to calm them down. I sang to make them fall asleep.
It didn’t always work, and they stopped sleeping full nights after their first birthday. But I kept singing.
The Finnish version of a song about a frog that wanted to get married sprung to mind, and I switched languages. I looked up its many, many verses and altered them to my liking, as I tended to do – apparently. Not being an experienced singer, it seemed odd that composing new versions of classics felt this easy, but I went with the flow. The frog came to life.
I even created an alternative version of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star – improved, dare I say. It just rhymed better now. And many songs are quite sad: did you realise Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer actually spends his days getting bullied? How many of us really listened to the lyrics we sang as kids?
Sometimes the lyrics seemed so odd I had to look them up. A musical toy lying on our floor played a tune that made me respond with, “A-hunting we shall go, a-hunting we shall go…” and I thought, this can’t be right! Why would a children’s song be about hunting, it makes no sense!
Meanwhile, the babies grew into active little boys who can now show their age with three and a half fingers. More keen to rock and roll than sleep, they perhaps haven’t mastered the art of calming down yet, but they have turned out to be very musical and can sing in two languages.
All this singing in our household feels wonderful, and yet very odd to a girl who was never good at singing.
Back in the 90’s, the teacher of our compulsory music classes at school made us all pass singing tests (and flute tests!) in front of the whole class. We were mercilessly critiqued and graded in front of the class, too, and for a shy student like myself, waiting for that day was pure agony.
I never thought of singing another note after that. I was told I was a bad singer (and also bad with the flute).
So you can imagine what a genuine surprise it was when, decades later, song started to burst out of my mouth. I had no idea why it was happening. And it didn’t stop.
In the land of midnight sun, we now have midday moon. The stars twinkle, and frogs, I’m sure, are getting married somewhere in the darkness of winter.