Friday, May 29, 2009

Some Kind of Legacy

I have interviewed some older people lately who have talked about passing on certain principles to the next generation. They've talked about the values they taught their children that were then passed on to their grandchildren, and these people have shared stories and songs and family traditions.

So, what did I pass onto my children? What stories and songs do they remember from their younger years? None, apparently. Husband and I both play at the piano, and the girls remember that from their childhood even if they can't put their finger on a specific song. That's nice. But I used to sing lots of songs to them, and I had hoped some of them might stick.

I can go about tasks on any given day and break out in a quiet song at random moments. "California is a garden of Eden. It's a paradise to live in or see. But believe it or not, you won't find it so hot, if you ain't got that do re mi." That's a particular favorite, and so is this one: "Well, sit down. Can't sit. I said sit down. I can't sit down. Well, sit down. I can't sit down. I just got religion and I feel brand new. Filled with the power of the holy ghost, too. So, how can I sit down with the way I feel." But my kids don't seem to know those songs and aren't interested in learning them.

Last night I walked into the kitchen and said to Eustacia, "Listen to this and tell me if it sounds at all familiar." And I sang the first verse of Queen of Hearts (I sang it for you all a year or two ago, and you can find it by searching if you'd like)—Oh, the queen of hearts, she's the ace of sorrow. She's here today, and she's gone tomorrow. Young men are plenty but sweethearts few. If my love leave me, what shall I do..."

"So, do you remember my singing that to you when you were little?" I asked.
"No," she said.

I sang it all the time! If she doesn't remember a stinking song, what does she remember? I suppose time will tell. I'd just like to think that what we do with our kids sticks at some point, like some kind of legacy. And I think passing on a song from generation to generation seems like a perfect way to keep a common thread woven in a family. I suppose I'll have to do all the singing to the grandkids if I ever have any, because apparently my kids have blocked out all the singing I did for them. What a shame.


Kyle @ Sift said...

I remember lots of songs my parents sang to me, in fact, I sing some of them to Francesca now. We also have new songs that she and I sing to each other, there's the Good Morning song I sing to her each morning when I wake her up for school. It seems to be better than a buzzing alarm clock and she loves that the first sound she hears each day is my voice. Sweet.

Miz Minka said...

My mom told me that she used to sing me a lullaby called "Die Bl├╝melein, Sie Schlafen" (The Little Flowers Are Sleeping). But sometime when I was around age three and she was singing to me at bedtime one evening, I put my fingers on her lips and said, quite seriously: "Mutti, nicht singen." (Mommy, don't sing.) And after that, she didn't anymore. I don't remember the incident, nor the singing. :)

savannah said...

i should ask the coconut krewe what they remember! xoxo

Mark said...

My kids remember random little things that I didn't think they were aware of in the first place.

Guess we hope they catch the important things, like how to treat people, and how to think for themselves.

lynn said...

Oh gosh Robyn, ME TOO! I sang and sang to my boys - do you think we overdid it?? LOL. My boys tell me that they DO remember me singing all the time and at bedtime I'd often sing them gently to sleep, but they don't really recall particular songs, lovingly chosen by me because of the relevant and fitting lyrics......oh....sigh.
Other things are fanTAStic birthday parties I organised for them, if I say so myself. Life was a little..easier..then, shall we say, and I employed entertainers, magicians etc., I baked beautiful cakes, laboured over personalised party bags for their little friends, sometimes drawing little caricatures of them for the they remember? Not a great deal, no.

So, as you say, what do we leave them? I know, Robyn. Security of a wonderful, loving childhood which negated the need to retain the details. They have that grounding and, though they can't recall a lot of it, it's there inside them, each and every day. You and I did that! Let's be proud. Oh yes! :D LOL.........

Rich said...

Sing to me,Robyn :)

MmeBenaut said...

I remember the lullaby that my mother sang to my brother when he was a baby.
I'll probably remember that my mother likes to eat mashed potato on bread and butter.
I won't leave legacies to any children as I don't have any but hopefully my nieces and nephews will remember me as being helpful, kind and generous, if a little crabby when I have a headache and a little stressed when I have a huge number of people to feed or a wedding to host!
They might also remember Christmas lunches with all the trimmings (I hope).

Shannon and Paul said...

I remember a lot of the songs my mother sang to us or with us. "Boom, Boom, ain't it great to be crazy!" "Mister Moon" "Now plant a watermelon on the top of my grave..." I'm not sure if my brother (22) remembers them as well. Maybe it's cultural. I bet they can sing the theme song to a cartoon from their childhood. Or a cereal jingle.