The art of singing to babies. How much damage could a Kenny Rogers song do?

April 2, 2013

The thing with babies is that they’re so small.

You forget, when you haven’t held one for a while. A decade qualifies.

The girls and I paid a visit to a great mate’s bub last weekend. A 5 week old bundle of cuteness.

They were impressed with how easily he went into my arms. It’s something a Dad never forgets.

All these years on, and the little bloke slipped straight into position. Cradled into my forearm. Tiny head safely tucked away.

He looked up at me, with blue eyes that looked years older. What was he thinking?

I suggested to the assembled gathering it may have been something about the large, rough melon above him. I noted there was no serious disagreement.

At 5 weeks, there’s not a great deal to think about. Sleep, milk and poop pretty much does it.

The girls were amused to hear his mum describe an emerging wind habit. My mate tells me he is approaching Olympic class for flatulence. The bub, not him.

It’s always fun to see new parents in action. Absolute love and devotion. There is no concern about a lack of sleep at present, because it’s still fun. We’ll check back in 4 years. My money will be on a different answer.

It took me back to when the girls were tiny fart machines. I could have said that differently, but this one line will be enough to embarrass them for days.

Daughter Two was a sound sleeper as a baby. Still is. It was rare that we needed to attend to her during the night.

The Teenager was a different proposition. She would wake, constantly. There were tummy issues, and she found it difficult to sleep for more than a few hours.

I frequently volunteered to bring peace back into the household. My answer was to sing to her.

I would bundle her into my arms, and head downstairs. Gentle rocking and soothing tunes.

I would start with a bit of Eagles. Those smooth sounds were often enough to get her back to slumberland. ‘Take It Easy.’ ‘New Kid In Town.’ Then ‘Hotel California.’

Hushed tones, of course. Just enough to relax both of us. Doing laps of the rumpus room.

From there, I’d move into a little Creedence. ‘Proud Mary’ or ‘Have You Ever Seen The Rain?’ Joe Cocker would play a role with ‘You Are So Beautiful.’ The most fitting of songs for her.

It’s hard to imagine that anyone could be having a whinge after exposure to such a collection. But if the mini version of The Teenager was still grumbling, I’d bring out the big guns.

Kenny Rogers has been putting people to sleep for years. And I mean that in the nicest possible way.

He starred in all our late night singalongs. Meaning he was perfect to get a baby snoozing again.

First up would by ‘Coward Of The County’. Then, one of the all time greats. ‘Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town.’

You painted up your lips and rolled and curled your tinted hair. Ruby are you contemplating going out somewhere? The shadow on the wall tells me the sun is going down. Oh Ruby, don’t take your love to town.”

She would be drowsy by now. You probably are too. Perfect timing for the highlight of my midnight whispering performance. ‘The Gambler’.  And by the end of the great man’s anthem, she would be asleep.

You might laugh at such antics, but Dads are nothing if not inventive. You won’t find my methods in any reputable baby book. That might be why they worked.

My mate has cool modern technology to fix such problems, so he probably won’t need my song sheet. That’s ok.

The Teenager still won’t go to sleep. But now it’s because of friends and phones, not farts and food. Not even the great Kenny has an answer to that.

Toilet troubles, crook knees and baldness. Let the Old Fart celebrations begin.

August 21, 2012

We are all getting so very old. Ancient, even.

Thank you Captain Obvious, I hear the crowd roar. But you must stick with me here.

I’m referring to a particular group. My mates. The boys I grew up with.

We are all approaching fifty years. A bunch of us, hobbling towards five decades of life. Some with more hair than others.

The first of the birthdays was at the weekend. Others will follow in the months ahead. Then next year. And a few in the early part of 2014.

You might tag us as over the hill, but we’re all still young at heart. We remember how it once was. What we used to get up to. I wouldn’t say we were wild. Although others might. I prefer to remember us as high-spirited, and fun-loving.

When we get together these days, we try to do the things we once did. For a while at least. Before one of us nods off.

For this party, we decided to gather at our local a few hours earlier. A punt and a few cool drinks, before the official fun began. A time-honoured tradition among this gang.

One by one they arrived. I don’t get to see them that much now, so every greeting featured a heart-felt hug and a firm handshake.

The ales flowed, and so did the stories. But the topics are so very different.

I returned to the table after a successful wager at Caulfield, to find the boys deep in conversation about their prostates. Not the footy, or the surf, or even a joke. Prostates.

One was recovering from a test. Another had one booked. Everyone had a horror story. Can’t be too careful, you know.

This bunch had been known to take over entire disco dance floors, and drain kegs in backyards. And here we were, discussing troubled male glands. In the same bar that the more spirited had arm wrestled in their youth.

For me, the conversation was a timely one. I’m having surgery later this week. They asked plenty of questions and painted terrible pictures about what was ahead. So nice of them.

We then shifted body parts. One of the boys described his progress after a knee replacement. A bloke who terrorised opponents on the field years ago. Now paying a painful price.

We left for the party soon after. A gentle walk towards the beach. A few were hobbling. One softie was even complaining about the cold. Why didn’t I take a jacket?

We arrived, and found other tell-tale signs around the room. One of the boys on crutches. Another bung knee. And it’s fair to say no-one was carrying a hair brush.

A bloke I hadn’t seen in twenty years mentioned that he’d had a heart attack a few years back. He was a respected opponent in our battles on the paddock. Now he was careful about his weight, and what he ate. Although it must be said, his form on the night was most impressive. I’m guessing the cardiac surgeon has given beer the green light.

A few haven’t made it this far. So sad. One of our great friends fought cancer like a warrior a few years back. The despicable disease got him in the end. Another is in the fight of his life right now. And we’re backing him to get the cash.

So we’re the lucky ones. Still very much alive and kicking. Having a giggle. Just falling asleep earlier.

The birthday boy finished the night by falling down the stairs. There was mock concern for a while, before everyone started laughing at him. I’m told he made a full recovery.

That’s what’s got us this far. A healthy dose of that great Australian trait. The ability to laugh at ourselves. And join is the fun with those closest to us.

My time’s coming, I know. The good news is that my knees are fine. And I’m still safe on the stairs. But can someone lend me a jacket? It’s freezing in here.