In Defense of Show Tunes


“Mommy, I will cast a spell on you and I will make you so pretty.”

Lexi Lenehan

 “The hills are alive with the sound of music.”

Julie Andrews


I’d like to know from all the experts out there—at what age is it appropriate for you to start embarrassing your children.  I don’t mean how old do I have to be; it’s not something I’m actively pursuing.  How old should your kid be when she notices your (let’s call them) idiosyncrasies and gently points them out to you.  Because Lexi just turned five last month and today she told me to stop singing in the supermarket. 

She’s the younger one.  I nursed her longer than I did Caroline.  I knew a lot more about bpa free stuff after she came along.  Isn’t it a little early for this?

I feel like I’m doing all the right things developmentally.  I bought a skort.  I know three Taylor Swift songs.  I let the girls have Airheads at the pool.  I just purchased a pair of aviator glasses at the mall instead of at Target.  Francesca at Sunglass Hut said I should go for trendy now, while I’m still young, and I believe that she thinks I’m still young.   The fact that I lived without polarized sunglasses for as long as I have, by the way, is criminal.  I know now how to walk through the world with heightened vision and fewer side-eye wrinkles; everything is more beautiful.

Which may explain why I was singing one of my three Taylor Swift songs at the Safeway.  It was “Back to December”—not “Back in Black” or “Sister Golden Hair” or anything else that would reveal age—but Lexi bent her head down and “shushed” me. 

She doesn’t even know.  This is entirely genetic.

It was not unusual for my dad to come home from work singing show tunes.   Friends would be over—god forbid a boyfriend—and Dad would walk in the door singing, “I’m just a girl who cain’t say no!”  Without sparing volume or tidying up Ado Annie’s colloquialisms, he played the part of a flirty Oklahoma! gal even though he was supposed to be my normal father coming home from his normal job as a university professor.  

My mom should have been but was not as vocal in public settings—she was actually the musical one, who listened to opera, encouraged us to play instruments, taught us to harmonize.  The whole family would sing during car trips.  There was a range of songs but my favorite was “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”  When the Glory, Glory Halleluiah! part came up, all six of us would break into rounds.   We really did: we were ½ Cleaver/ ½ Von Trapp.   

And all those traditionals my grandmother played by ear on the piano— “Irish Eyes are Smiling” and “Tell me Why”—we’d knock them back before knocking back Christmas dinner.  It was just what we did.   Music was as regular as wiffle ball. 

I live life like it’s Broadway.  My kids are just going to have to get used to it.  I gotta be me.   They can’t take that away from me.  Anything goes.

2 Comments on “In Defense of Show Tunes”

  1. Sheila says:

    Emerson told me this morning (again!) that she “just doesn’t like it when I sing!”. Oh well.

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