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Song Wars

A few months ago, Matt introduced Simon to the Rebecca Black song cum Internet viral video sensation “Friday“. I knew about it, but had never actually heard it. Lucky me! It is nails on chalk-board bad. For those blissfully unaware, Rebecca Black is the daughter of wealthy parents who shelled out some serious cash to buy a song for their daughter to sing and to let her record a professional video.  It features stunningly deep lyrics such as “Kickin’ in the front seat; kickin’ in the back seat; gotta make my mind up; which seat should I take?”

Matt thinks it’s the best worst song ever written, or at least sits high on the good bad song short-list. I’m missing the charm and have yet to make it through a complete viewing or hearing. Simon thinks the whole thing is hilarious with a capital “H”, and took to singing the song whenever he wanted to get a rise out of me.

Then I started teaching preschool Spanish twice a week. (Have I mentioned that yet? KIP needed someone on very short notice, asked if I could help out, and I said yes. I missed the place and interacting with the little ones. My Spanish was excellent 25 years and about 6 languages ago, so why not?) So yeah, I now spend two days a week trying to drum some Español into the heads of 2-5-year-olds, ideally without sounding like Peggy Hill while I’m at it. (Actually, Peggy Hill might be a welcome change. I learned Castillano, or the Spanish of Spain in school, meaning I lisp at every c or z. Thapatos, Thinco, and Justithia, oh my!)

Anyway, I learned in week one that the secret to getting little kids to remember anything is to sing it. So I largely scrapped my predecessor’s work-sheets and have spent some quality time using the Google to hunt down Spanish songs. Some are English-Spanish Frankensongs that insert Spanish words into otherwise English songs, some are little Spanish ditties set to familiar American songs or nursery rhymes, and some are authentic Spanish children’s songs.  As a result, I am singing all the time. I’m singing “Red is rojo” to “Frere Jacques”; I’m singing “Calabaza, Una Calabaza” to the tune of “Alouette”; I’m singing “Hojas, Hojas” and “Los Esqueletos”.

Many of these songs irritate Simon. All of them annoy him when I sing them too often for his liking. Which means his powers of annoyance are no longer one-sided. Whereas once Simon waged asymmetric singing warfare at me by sneering… oops, I mean singing “Friday, Friday” at every turn, I now sing right back at him. “Hojas, hojas, hojas se caen del arbol” or “Quando el reloj, marca las doce; doce esqueletos descansan por la noche. Tumba, tumba, tumba-ba.”

It’s awesomely absurd and a new part of our daily ritual. We’ve engaged in singing warfare in our car, on the way to the car, in the Brandeis gym when I collect him in the afternoons, at Panera last week, etc. The good news is that Simon knows he’s sometimes getting weird looks and doesn’t care; he’s fine with our sharing a goofy inside joke. The better news? We both have much better Spanish than we did a month ago!

And to atone for siccing “Friday” on you, let me also direct you to the charming Costa Rican song “Los Esqueletos“.

Happy Dia de los Muertos!

2 Responses to “Song Wars”

  1. Kate says:

    Hi Jessica! Back in the olden days, when I taught bilingual ed in Idaho, there were some great records available with all kinds of kids’ songs in Spanish. My favorite was a set called “Paso a Paso con los Ninos” (out of Texas – don’t know if it’s still available). It had lots of traditional songs and games. The other favorites were on the Spanish version of Hap Palmer (Learning Basic Skills throug Music), which I think you can find on Amazon. These were songs the kindergartners and preschoolers loved!

  2. Jessica says:

    This is why I love having a blog! It’s not just that I can write about what’s going on with us all and look back a year or five later. It’s that I can have real questions—big or little—and get thoughtful feedback and useful suggestions from far-flung friends.

    Kate, Eveleigh, Tyrrell, & Barbara: Thank you very much for the suggestions on my last two posts.

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