One day last week we were in the usual start to the spiral: Iris was fussing, Ingrid was balking at getting dressed to leave the house. I couldn’t concentrate on one or the other, I was just trammelled by both.
I started to sing a song to calm Iris down: Tum bala, Tum bala, Tum balalaikaThen, hardly thinking about what I was doing, I changed the words to talk to Ingrid: Get your shoes, get your shoes, get your shoes, Ingrid. I don’t know that I expected results to this. But Iris quieted. Ingrid did a double-take when she heard the new words, and smiled, and kept listening. She found her shoes while I invented new verses, silly ones. She sung along.
Sound—which for days had felt like my enemy—was on our side. Calming Iris. Entertaining Ingrid. Smoothing the air so I could breathe it again. Connecting us.
It wasn’t—by far—the first time I’d used singing to be heard, to soothe, to entertain. But it was the first time I noticed how much music does to get me through those moments.
And singing is the one thing I can do that sometimes meets all of our needs at once. I’ve done a a ton of singing since that day. Iris needs the tune, the rhythm. Ingrid needs the word play and the unexpected. I need to hear something orderly. And it feeds me, just a little, to be creative with words, even in that fleeting medium. (What a rush it is to rhyme Daddy with spaghetti. Huzzah!) I don’t have much of a musical education, but as far as I’m concerned this is what music is for.