There was a time, when Badger was quite young, when I was worried about her lack of interest in music. Those lists of milestones always said that babies should “respond to music” (whatever that means) by 2 weeks old or something ridiculous like that. For weeks she was completely unmoved by my (admittedly terrible) lullaby singing, disinterested in baby dancing, and nonplussed by my sneaky attempts to inculcate a love of 80s alternative and pop. Music and dancing are things I love, and I had this niggling concern that my kid wouldn’t share them with me (don’t laugh, that’s the sort of thing you worry about when there’s nothing actually wrong with your baby).
I couldn’t say exactly when Badger started showing signs of interest — like pretty much everything else, I was so busy stressing about something else that I didn’t notice the thing I was stressing about before was gone. But definitely by the time she was ‘pre-crawling’ (galumphing around the house like a drunk wedding guest doing The Worm) she was “dancing” — up on her hands and knees, rocking her behind. Now she dances at the drop of a hat to anything that resembles music. And my worry that she’d have a wooden leg and a tin ear* turned into another problem entirely — she wants to be sung to. CONSTANTLY.
This is, of course, adorable and flattering. It is also mind-numbingly dull, and can even be a sort of torture (like when I’m pushing the stroller up a hill and she demands a twentieth round of Farmer in the Dell). She can sometimes be put off with a YouTube video (here’s a collection of Badger’s Favorite Hits), but generally she prefers the live concert experience. It was hardest when she had developed a preference for particular songs but couldn’t ask for them specifically, so she’d just say/sign “again! again! again!” while I sang a few bars of as many songs as I could think of until I hit on the right one, like some kind of human iPod Shuffle.
Now she can ask for her favorites by name, which only makes it moderately better — I can sing the same song over and over and over and over, instead of singing six notes of 50 different songs. She can even sing along, after an avant garde, tuneless, holler-the-last-word-of-each-line fashion.
But the most recent development in our little perpetual karaoke party is actually really, really awesome. Her particular favorite song is Old Macdonald (who has a farm, “yiyo, yiyo, yiyo”), and I have sung it to her hundreds of times. But now (and this is so cool, I have a huge grin on my face just writing about it) if you pause at the “and on his farm he had a” part — she will name something. Frogs, puppies and horses are popular choices, as is whatever toy she has in her hand. But you just never know what her little churning baby brain will come up with; this morning it was “bocky” (broccoli) and “coffee”. It’s the very beginning of actually being able to have a conversation with her, and it’s wonderful.
*That she seems to love my tuneless warbling suggests she may still have a tin ear.