They Have the Music in Them!

Today my six-year-old decided he was going to write a song. I was impressed and encouraging. A few minutes later I got to read the opening lines:

“I am gona get on fire

like a cobra

or a black mamba

fiting a tiger”

 I complimented my rookie songwriter on his creativity but I also wanted to give him some constructive feedback. How about adding rhymes? My input wasn’t well taken, though. Actually, I got to hear that “rhymes make a song sound stupid”.

Two thoughts followed:

The first one was about music. Music is kids’ best friend and I’m happy my boys are friends with music. Apparently, even the science confirms that children who play instruments are happier. In other words, let’s keep music alive in our homes. Any music, from folk to classical. I was hesitating for a while about the influence of the radio on my sons’ taste in music, but you know what, even a cheap radio hit can be inspiring. Actually, I’m quite positive that it’s the Swift, Perry & Co that gave my son the idea to write his first hit-to-be. Even if I would prefer to believe that it’s the music classes I kept signing him up for while in preschool (A propos music classes, I fully recommend Kindermusik. I am enjoying it again with my two-year-old. It’s so engaging,  diverse, and so professional! Check it out. They might offer classes in your area.) And let’s not ignore the innate musicality of children. Nobody has taught our younger son to wiggle his hips to the music the way he does. (Unless it was “The Wiggles”) Let’s give our children opportunities to develop what’s already in them.

My second reflection was about my son’s rhyme comment. I was surprised to hear that a kindergartener considers rhymes silly. Perhaps all those publishers who reject rhymed picture book manuscripts are right after all? Perhaps rhymed book are too simplistic indeed for this sophisticated generation? Generation Apple, by the way. I concluded so after my son had spelled ‘Island‘ as ‘iLand‘.

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The Secret of Banana Soup” by Agnieszka Chapas

The secret is out. My latest book is out. Check it out!

The pictures by Natalya Yampolsky are just enchanting. And the story? This amusing tale of two friends, Charlie and Parrot, is a colorful geography lesson for young travelers and a little treat for fans of mom’s cooking.
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“Almost” by Richard Torrey

Jack is almost six and, in his world, he is almost grown up. He can almost wear his older brother’s clothes, ride a big bike or make his breakfast. Never mind that his brother doesn’t let Jack touch his shirts, Jack’s feet can’t reach the pedals of the big bike and he spills milk all over the counter instead pouring it over the cereal. Luckily, despite being so almost adult and so almost accomplished, he is not too grown up to give his mom a hug every now and then.

Our children want to grow up so fast, don’t they? They can’t be just five or six years old. They are always five and a half or six and three-quarters. Yet, at the same time (and thanks goodness), there will always be moments when they don’t mind forgetting about their age (real or imaginary) and being just our little children. My head is full of examples, but it is kind of secret worth keeping, isn’t it. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

Sweet, amusing and so true a story, which perfectly captures the paradox and dilemmas of growing up.  In our family it is the two-year-old who thinks he is six, like his brother.  And he sure acts like one. Almost, that is.

“The Birthday Fish” by Dan Yaccarino

I don’t even want to know how long it’s been since the last post. I could start this entry with trying to explain my long absence, but why would I bother? Most of you are either parents or writers, so you know everything about parent’s block, writer’s block, or what happens when they both hit at the same time. Besides, starting with explaining myself, I would run a risk of running out of my blogging time. So, let’s just start with “Hello, Everyone!”

Today’s post and the book are about birthdays, expectations, and making lists.

Last month in our family was definitely about all of the above. As our son was waiting for his birthday, he was making and updating his I’d-like-to-get list. When he came up with the whole list idea a couple of years ago before Christmas, I was a bit skeptical. I was worried that it would lead to mutual frustration. Our family (friends and Santa) will have a hard time finding things from his list, and he might feel disappointed when getting something else. And what about surprises? But list by list, I was getting more and more convinced that his input was actually quite helpful. The things he wanted were mostly inexpensive, useful, and in line with his interests, from markers to ‘speedy’ clothes, and books about dragons. Instead of throwing money away on what we thought he would enjoy, we’ve found a golden compromise.

But of course, the whole list system begs a question: is it always good to give children what they want? No, it is not. (That’s why we don’t have a video game system in the house yet) Not getting what they (and ourselves) want and dealing with it is a crucial life lesson. Not only does it teach our children patience, humility and perseverance, but it also teaches them flexibility. It broadens their horizons, exposes them to new experiences.  As parents, we should feel good about disappointing our children from time to time, even if it sounds like a paradox. 

In “The Birthday Fish”, one thing Cynthia always wanted was a pony. She kept putting it on her Christmas lists but she kept getting everything but ponies. She was hoping to get one for her birthday, but no, her parents thought a goldfish would be a better gift. Cynthia was frustrated. She was about to dump the golden present down the drain, when her fish suddenly spoke. She offered to make Cynthia’s wish come true in exchange for freedom. Cynthia didn’t hesitate. She wished for a pony.  Off to the lake they went.  But as they walked, something miraculous happened… 

In order to know WHAT happened and WHAT came back home with Cynthia, you have to read the book. I can’t spill all the beans, but I can tell you that whatever it was called Marigold.

A smart story with a lot of humor. Typical Yaccarino-style illustrations. A great book to add to anybody’s reading list.