While singing Adeline her bedtime songs last night, I had a bit of an epiphany. OK, maybe not “epiphany”. We should probably save that word for realizing that your job is meaningless or you’re in love with someone or you’ve discovered the meaning of life. But regardless, something clicked in my mind and I wanted to share it with you.
Let me first share the lyrics of the song that I was singing, one of my all-time favorites:
I do not have a mansion, I haven't any land, Not one paper dollar to crinkle in my hand. But I can show you morning on a thousand hills, And kiss you and give you seven daffodils. I do not have a fortune to buy you pretty things, But I can weave you moonbeams for necklaces and rings. And I can show you morning on a thousand hills, And kiss you and give you seven daffodils. Seven golden daffodils, shining in the sun, Light the way to evening, when our day is done. And I can give you music, and a crust of bread, And a pillow of piney boughs to rest your head. And a pillow of piney boughs to rest your head.
(This is a song that I learned at summer camp – most of the bedtime songs I sing Addie are from camp. And here’s a link to a quick little rendition of it that I did, so you can hear how it sounds. Please pardon my occasional flats.)
As I was singing this song the lyrics to a more popular lullaby popped into my head:
Hush, little baby, don't say a word. Papa's gonna buy you a mockingbird And if that mockingbird won't sing, Papa's gonna buy you a diamond ring And if that diamond ring turns brass, Papa's gonna buy you a looking glass And if that looking glass gets broke, Papa's gonna buy you a billy goat And if that billy goat won't pull, Papa's gonna buy you a cart and bull And if that cart and bull turn over, Papa's gonna buy you a dog named Rover And if that dog named Rover won't bark Papa's gonna buy you a horse and cart And if that horse and cart fall down, You'll still be the sweetest little baby in town.
So on the one hand, you have a song about the illusory nature of material goods; about the importance of finding the beauty in nature and music; about the fact that you can’t buy love and you wouldn’t want to. And on the other hand, you have a song about how Daddy will attempt to make you happy by buying you thing after thing after thing; about how the moment one thing is not good enough for you, Daddy will buy you something even better; about how you should use these material goods to make yourself feel better and stop all that crying already.
I know, I know, I’m reading too much into this. Still though, I can’t help but feel a bit disgusted by Hush Little Baby, now that I’ve thought of it this way. I never sing it to Adeline because I love my camp songs, but now I really won’t sing it to her.
What do you think, am I being crazy? What are you favorite lullabies or bedtime songs to sing to your little ones?