I feel like I’m living in Footloose. And not in the good “Kevin Bacon is awesome” way. In the “I’ve got a little dictator telling me what to do” way.
Such has been the decree of my 2-and-a-half-year-old lately, and it alternates with: “No singing!!!” Not all the time, but sporadically, and enough to make this mommy either scratch her head, laugh hysterically and cry hysterically.
Don’t get me wrong: We still sing and dance plenty, and this kid can’t help but break out into song nearly every hour of the day. But until now, we’ve done it together. Always. Now, if the mood isn’t right, according to his toddler standards, he will tell me to stooooooop!
I like to think that I’m not embarrassing him just yet. (Not totally, anyway.) No, this is a developmental phase, or so I keep reminding myself.
I remember when one of my little guy’s music teachers broached this topic early on. She told us that when our kids got a little older, this might happen. If they heard Mom, the dominant voice in their lives, they couldn’t hear themselves sing and find the pitch, and really, they couldn’t really hear themselves think. So they’d want Mom to be quiet so that they could find their own voices. I didn’t quite believe her, but I nodded and smiled. And a year and a half later, here we are.
Of course, there’s the other delightful aspect of a toddler saying no: Seeing how you, as a parent, respond to demands. I think the dancing decree might be more about asserting his independence than judging my sweet moves, but that’s just a guess.
The thing is, singing has always been one of our primary ways of communicating, from pretty much Day 1. Lullabies, pop songs, classic rock, the Star Wars theme, little ditties from the mommy-and-me music class that we started when he was just 10 weeks old and—my favorite—made-up songs about changing his diaper, splashing in the tub and strolling through the city. I’d literally sing about whatever we were doing at the time, pretty much all of the time, and I still do. I think this is why he started singing in full sentences before he was able to speak in full sentences.
And dancing? If he was being difficult or needed some motivation to move onto another activity, I’d just scoop him up, bust a move or two, and voila! Mission accomplished.
Thankfully, the motivation aspect of music still works. But if I want to release my inner Elsa and belt out every Frozen song, karaoke- and dance-party-style, like we used to? It depends on the day and my little dictator’s mood. Sometimes I’ll still do it anyway, much to his chagrin, and other days, well, I just bite my tongue and try to let it go.