Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Thumbkin Must Die

Recently, someone gave me a stack of CD’s for the baby. They told me, “These will make car rides bearable.” The CD’s were full of children’s music, and as I flipped through them, I stared at their covers festooned with bright colors and smiling cartoon characters. These CD’s appeared to be anything but bearable. When I finally got around to listening to them, I tried to do it with an open mind. Everything about it – the music, the singing – was jammed-packed with forced merriment. Linda was nearby. “Nope. That’s awful,” she said. Where is Thumbkin?, I believe it was. I had to admit I agreed with her, and I felt guilty about that. Right now, I can’t picture myself listening to this stuff, even as a panacea for car ride troubles. This music is like nails on a chalkboard, but shouldn’t I listen to it if my kid likes it? Music is a big deal to me – even to drive down the street, I plug in my iPod and select a certain song. I even have a line in my monthly budget for music. Will the presence of a child change that? Will I start watching kids’ shows and movies and listening to kids’ music because that’s what my kid likes? It reminds me of when the last Indiana Jones movie came out - the new one - and I told my brother how dreadful and disappointing I found it. He had just taken his seven-year-old son to see it, and he told me, “I loved it.” When I asked him why, he said he didn’t love it because it was a great movie. He loved it because his son did. That makes sense to me. I don’t have to like it, but it makes sense. Should I start learning the words to Where is Thumbkin?

24 days until baby.


  1. There are many good artists of children's music. I recommend Nan Hoffman(local); Raffi (still play his Christmas Album every Christmas morning!); Sharon, Lois, & Bram; and the irreverent Barry Polisar. Our family attended their concerts and sang along for hours on long road trips.
    The best songbook was "Eye Winker, Tom Tinker, Chin Chopper: Fifty Musical Fingerplays" by Tom Glazer.
    So many songs are still favorite parts of our family lore! We break out a line or two as easily as we reference favorite books or characters.

    P.S. I chose what music appealed to me so it was a pleasure to experience it together.

  2. Try these too:



    The children come to love, in many ways, what you love. So play good stuff that's ok for kids. They learn by what you surround them with!


  3. Play classical music for your child. It will be one of the best things you will every do for him/her.

  4. I could never understand playing children's music on car ride. I too found it to be overly and forcefully joyful. I would click on jazz, classic rock or even music I enjoyed over the years that I felt had substance. The result is three school age children that I think can appreciate all types of music and it adds to their knowledge as they become little musicians themselves. Just another tool to exposing them to the small moment good things in life. TV, well that is another story in our house.

  5. Come on down to kindergarten at meet Mr. Thumbkin! Yeah...who knew kids love that stuff. Songs with words they understand, and repetition, AND they get to wiggle their fingers too? Bonus!

    Anyway- there comes a moment in the long car ride (to the Jersey shore) with the young child (Penn) when whatever works, works, and you run with it. If this means playing Sandra Boynton's "Dinosaur" song 50 times in a row, then, well, it's better than a crying baby.

    BTW- check out DADDY-O DADDY which is primarily Wilco and Billy Bragg finishing some of Woody Guthrie's children's songs. No gag effect needed.

  6. Laurie Berkner is amazing for kids. Don't forget Hannah Montana, Taylor Swift & Selena Gomez for goofy girls!!