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.