Thursday, February 22, 2007

That Cabaret Life

Why won't children let their mothers sing? I like to sing. Admittedly, I can only remember the first line of any song. Still, I like to sing that line and do it tunefully. But children like to keep their songbirds caged and dark. "Don't sing," my youngest son dictates from the table where he plays with plastic soldiers, guns moulded and ready. "I mean it. Don't sing." He fires a cannon and three men die in friendly fire. "Why not?" I ask, my painted smile slipping as I stand in the spotlit darkness of my kitchen cabaret. "Why can't mummy sing?" I lob my question into the blackness and hear my six-year-old's voice: "We like it quiet." This from boys who moments before, arms spread wide and mouths a-roar, were jet screaming round the table. The super trouper flickers and turns off.

32 comments:

Newmania said...

No sorry wifey thats just you , my wife and son adore my singing and frequently implore me to do entire shows (in costume .)

You must have a voice like a crow. Funny that because I imagined you having one of those crumbly biscuit Radio Four Voices, from about 1940.I bet you do , they just take you for granted.

SarahClark said...

Noise control is something that children like to master - like bladder control or tv remote control. My kids squabble incessantly because one of them is shouting too much, talking too babyishly, laughing too loudly when the telly is on, or when my son is singing the girls' part in High School Musical (which, as everybody knows, only girls should be allowed to sing). When you're daydreaming a few moments away whilst warbling like a canary, your children don't like the fact that they've lost control (i.e. of the noise) and - far worse - that you're doing something purely for your own enjoyment instead of paying attention to them. That's why.

The Grocer said...

So are you trying to keep other females far away or trying to attract a mate in the absence of your own who leaves the nest unattended for long periods?

gloriosky said...

Reminds me of when my children (now 25 and 22) were pre-teens. My husband, daughter (the younger of the two) and I loved to sing in the car. One day my son, normally quiet and even-tempered, burst forth in anger, "I know you all sing because you know how much I hate it when you do. Why don't you stop!" I was so surprised, that I sternly retorted "You have some nerve - we don't sing to annoy you, we sing because it's fun and makes us feel good." When my son was 19 and had his first serious girlfriend, he started singing along to the radio in the car (much to my surprise), and commented - "Now I get why people like love songs." My advice to you is Don't Stop Singing. One day, they'll get it, and look back on it fondly. He has finally joined the chorus.

Anonymous said...

Be thankful, my partner turns up the radio to drown me out and then denies it ;-)

GuardianReader said...

Keep singing. It will encourage them when they're older.

My mother sang. We complained. Now I sing and I love it.

Sereeb said...

Hello,
I discovered your blog through the Sunday Times. Congrats on your new book deal.

Well, I personally would give up everything and anything, of course except writing & reading, to live in the country, in a farm in the middle of no where. And oh, let’s not forget the ever-absent husband, I need to write, eh!

Good luck and can’t wait to read your book.
Soad

jtschida said...

Both my father and mother sang during my childhood. My mom whistled as well. At her seventieth birthday several years ago, my brother reflected on how comforting he found her whistling as a child. So sing on, especially around your children's friends. Embarrass them as much as possible. You'll leave them with fond memories by doing so.

Anonymous said...

Trawling back in the memory backs, I must admit I was never a big fan of my mother singing. This was rather tricky, as it would be something she would do a lot of, when practising playing hymns on the piano [she was an organist at the chapel]. I can't pin down why this was.

I suspect it may be linked to that phase of life your boys were at, which you mentioned in an earlier post. Boys do seem very protective of their mums at that age. Perhaps they think you will attract the wrong sort of attention ! Or that a passing record company 'A&R' man may want to snap you up for the next 'Girls Aloud'.

Maybe there is something more deep rooted - perhaps mothers of our distant ancestors only 'sang' when the fathers were out 'hunting and gathering' and one of those bears your son was worrying about was in the vicinity. Perhaps it makes them feel anxious, and that singing a lullaby is what they are after ??

Anonymous said...

Off topic, but the delightful Martha Kearney has had a promotion, and she will be presenting 'The World at One' - she will be a loss to Newsnight which won't feel quite the same without her.

Jade said...

I know what you mean. I try to sing. It's enjoyable and allows me unlease my inner diva in the livingroom.(She's been hiding in a small dusty closest).
Somehow I feel I'm musically educating my 2 year old as well as developing his creativity... It's trying though when, after the 1st few notes I hear a small assertive voice pipping up. "Mummy no. Stop singing". I try to carry on. It's for his own good anyway, and get a more insistant "Mummy stop singing!" and putting his chubbly hands over his ears he runs around the room going "No...noooo...nooooooooooooo.He's meant to like it, I sung all the time I was pregnant.
So I watch him playing for a few minutes and then, with conviction I hear from his little bubbly lips. "BAL..LAAAAA...MOORRRR.....RYYYYYYYY...
This my music hating boy. Maybe he just likes the sound of his own voice.
I know I do.

Moose said...

You keep on singing! I can't sing very well at all, but my two mooselets always want me to sing. "Sing the Beautiful song, daddy" they say. James Blunt is not my style, but they seem to love it.
From one blogger to another, I have to say I was jealous when I heard about your book deal. Especially as I am on the second draft of my book.
But I thought I'd pop in and see what all the fuss was about.
I have to say I like your writing. So good on you. Good luck to you.

And if you feel like popping round to mine, sometime, you'd be most welcome.

Sarah Kelly said...

I think if your children condone you singing, it's like they are happy with you stealing their domain. Mums aren't supposed to be all singing all dancing in the literal sense - just metaphorically. (Also jugglers, conjurors, chefs, taxi drivers etc etc)

istanbultory said...

Alas, Mrs IT is not blessed with the best of voices and is well used to being summarily silenced when ever she begins to speak or sing. Wifey, I am toying with the idea of kicking off a no-holes blog embracing culture shock and mid-life crisis. It might very well be called "Byzantine husband- a cautionary tale". Do you think I could get any mileage out of it? Perhaps the "Bridport Free Advertiser" would offer serialisation rights....

Heather said...

Found this site via Ellee.

There's nothing wrong with a bit of
singing whilst you're eating your Weetabix...perhaps you could send them to an after school operatic appreciation club, could be fun. :)

GO! Smell the flowers said...

Hi Wifey,

Your story is an inspiration to us - we are 2 expats in Dubai, currently writing our first book (s) after taking time out from the rat-race to GO! Smell the flowers...We're back in the rat race.....but are less rat-like aiming to inspire others to smell their flowers...

A crumpled copy of the Times article from 18th Feb arrived today with an encouraging note from a friend who reads our blog....

FYI you can check us out at www.gosmelltheflowers.com and www.gosmellthelfowers.com/blog where we've posted your story today! Magic if you could post a comment to inspire the folks of Dubai!

wife in the north said...

re sarahclark: exactly
re thegrocer: hmm there's a big question
re istanbultory:"culture shock and mid-life crisis" - don't think there's much mileage there for you

Jules said...

I used to fondly imagine my children & I happily singing away together, that's before I actually had any, turned out to be a load of von trapp... I believe that you can sing because I can too and yet my four year old sticks her fingers in her ears, desperately pleads with me to stop and shouts LALALALALA. The baby copies her. This admittedly makes quite a cute picture but doesn't do anything for my self confidence. Also, I've just discovered from Dr. Alice Roberts on TV last night, my brain must be in a shocking state of disrepair. Dr Alice went off to a nice hotel where (for two nights) she only got four hours (four unbroken hours) of sleep. She was wrecked, became less clever and ate more, how we laughed. Explains a lot.

I'm loving the blog, first one I've read, suspect it's ruined me for the rest.. and well done on the book deal - but will it be enough to pay the builders?

Anonymous said...

On a different line, Iain Dale, with his finger on the political pulse, is whingeing about women tennis players getting paid the same as the men...

After 3 - 'It's political correctness gawn mad, I tell 'ya"...

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the book deal.
Yes, singing in the presence of ones children can destroy self-esteem,especially if one is singing one part of a 4 part harmony arrangement! My boys always hated me learning my part and dear farmer-husband used my learning cds as the ultimate threat for bad behaviour in the car!
I look forward to your further installments.
J.(Near Henfryn Farm)

007and a half said...

Tee, hee!

My younger daughter's *very first words* were

"Stop singing, Mummy".

I kid you not.

None of that usual dadadada nonsense for her.

Hmmm....it did make me self conscious for a while...

I did not then know it to be a universal truth that children hate to hear their mothers sing.

Maybe that's why Posh Spice gave up her vocals?

I expect her sons also tell their father that he is embarrassingly old to be playing football and could he please stop, for their sakes?

Newmania said...

Mmm I am having a mid Life crisis as well. IT go for it there will be a huge readership of flabby embittered males waiting to be harvested

Amber said...

mmmmmmmm

mutleythedog said...

They strngly objected to me singing at the school disco!

BigSis said...

My mum sang to Jim Reeves and Perry Como when we were young.
I still remember the words.
On my eighth birthday I was given my first single - It's now or never' by Elvis.
The along came Rolf Harris with his 'Two Little Boys'.
With three youngsters and a hectic life I find it very theraputic to sing at the top of my voice in the house and car. There is often a competition between myself and the kids to see who knows the most words and sings the loudest to the album of the day - whether it's Whistle Down the Wind, James Blunt or High School Musical.
All confidence boosting!
Keep at it Wife!

Yenekale said...

I have just found your blog via the Sunday Times and love reading it, it takes me back to when my children were small. However I agree with the people who have suggested that you don't moderate comments, I always wonder if those that have been removed were more interesting than the congratulatory ones! I would agree that you should not accept rude or vindictive ones but is it not possible to block those? I used to read a blog from someone on the other side of the Pennines from you, she was interesting but held very strong views and it was spoilt for me when she removed all comments with even a hint of criticism.

Mme sensOtheque said...

Hi, discovered your blog today, enjoyable read, and very comforting too, being a mom of a lively daughter ;-)

Mme sensOtheque said...

You know what I miss the most about my mom? The songs she sang! Now, being a mom myself, I try to sing and play (the accordeon) as much as I can for my daughter, and how she likes it!

Simon said...

Love your blog, I really do... it's great to hear someone being so honest with everything!

I love the north 'The Lakes' in particular, but moving up there from london? I don't know if I could do it.

Keep writing its brilliant!

Anonymous said...

I am completely tone deaf to the point that whenever I try to ‘sing’ I am sure I can see little cracks develop in any glass within 5 feet of my voice. This was a great disappointment to my mother who came from a long line of great singers, not to mention anyone unlucky enough to be within range of my singing, however. When I had children of my own it turned out to be a wonderful gift. Whenever the two little darlings would start to cause trouble all I would have to do is ‘sing’. Within a microsecond they would stop what they were doing and plead for me to stop singing. Of course I would comply with their request as long as they behaved themselves.

Just discovered your blog and it’s wonderful.

Stewart. said...

Good grief, this is Northumberland not Novaya Zemlya! Contrary to southern myths we do not eat our children, there are no werewolves and we even speak the same language! ( Although you may not understand it). As for The Lakes, that is still in the south to me...100 miles to the south exactly. I went to London once, about 30 years ago...

S...
A full blown Northumbrian born and bred. See my blog for some snaps of the scenery all with 10 miles of my house.

Rare Breed said...

Wifey - does your singing actually bring blushes to your children's faces? As my singing does to my youngest!! My youngest tells me regulary to stop singing because he is embarrassed - he is 8 for goodness sake!

I didn't know what embarrassment was until I was about 21.