Sunday’s song circle started out fun. We had a couple of older men, my friend Stacy and me. Some other women wandered in. No one else had brought an instrument, so I got to accompany everyone, whether or not I knew the songs. No problem. But then a woman arrived with a flock of children, seven or eight of them. They have come before, and they’re great kids, but suddenly all we were singing was kid songs, and I was the only one who didn’t know them.
Yes, I remember “This Old Man” and “Itsy Bitsy Spider” from my own long-ago youth, but not stuff like “The Green Grass Grew All Around,” “The Little White Duck” or anything written within the last 50 years. Everybody else, including the lovely older men, knew all the songs from their kids and grandkids. Everyone looked at me to lead the songs because I had the guitar, and I had to keep telling them, “I don’t know how it goes.” Our books had words and chords but not notes or rhythms. I’d strum a chord and say, “You have to sing it because I don’t know how.” It was like saying I didn’t speak English.
The songs were easy enough. I caught on, although I won’t remember them. The others had probably sung them so many times they will never forget them. Ninety years old in a nursing home with dementia, they will still know these silly songs.
It’s not just kids’ music that I don’t know. I started to read a parody of the book “Good Night, Moon” the other day and realized I only knew the title, so the rest of it didn’t make any sense to me. Likewise, I don’t know kids’ TV shows or movies. Somebody will mention a cartoon character, and I don’t know anything about him.
Meanwhile, the people next to me were singing these songs with gestures and clapping at all the right places and having a great time. I do sing children’s songs for the kids at church. But I have sheet music and recordings, so I can learn them in advance, and I love watching the little ones wiggle around trying to do the gestures. But don’t expect me to know all the songs every other grownup seems to know.
N is for No, I don’t know that song because I never had any kids.
N was going to be for Nana, a name some of my friends use for Grandmother. Well, I’m not that either.
If you don’t have children or grandchildren, do you have another channel to kid culture? Please share.