As I mentioned in my last post, George currently has a laser focus on the United States. For about a year, it was the ABCs, but he’s recently abandoned his letters for his new patriotic love. Weirdly enough, silhouettes of Florida, other states, or the U.S. as a whole pepper our retail world. Who knew? Only a toddler would notice these things.
At Dunkin’ Donuts today (yes, yes, we were the brilliant parentals handing our 2-year-old a chocolate-frosted, sprinkled donut. He literally was inventing his own language while riding the glucose train), the good, ol’ US of A was pasted on the wall next to a silhouetted man running, which I find hilarious and ironic, Dunkin’. Last weekend, he spotted Florida and Texas on the wall of a BBQ joint. Florida appears on a bank sign we drive by on our way to the library. Our country seems to have an infatuation with, well, our country (big shocker there!).
So, I, being his attentive mother, have to feed his little passions at my own potential detriment. When I was in the fourth grade, we did a patriotic program of sorts. I only remember this because we learned the song, “Fifty Nifty United States,” which has stuck with me for the past 20 years. Until about two weeks ago, I could only remember the first few states…”Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut…” Being an English major and book junkie, you’d think I’d be better at memorizing alphabetical order, but it’s one of my fatal flaws.
And so, as is par for the course, George begs to watch the “states song!!!” every waking moment on YouTube. We’ve graduated past the original “Fifty Nifty” ditty and moved onto the “sad states” song (The Hubs and I aren’t sure what is happening in this video…) and the “happy states” song (I beg to differ with the toddler. The states look like they’re in pain, as does Mama as she listens to the vocals). He also demands I sing the Fifty Nifties before he goes to bed each night, so I finally knows all 50 states in alphabetical order. I also have to sing the song at the conclusion of The Scrambled States of America, as each state, capital, and population is listed for my 2-year-old to peruse.
Speaking of singing children’s songs…
(Impressive segue, I realize)
Children’s books that encourage the parent to sing rather irk me. Y’all. Mama is tired. One of the last things (other than sitting in the 95-degree, 112% humidity heat and watch the toddler draw with sidewalk chalk) I want to do is invent some terrible melody and incorporate rhymes. Please. Do the work for me!
The first time I accidentally encountered one of these song-and-dances was Pete the Cat: Old McDonald had a Farm. We love Pete the Cat ever since my mother-in-law gave George Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons. Therefore, I plucked Pete’s farm adventure off the shelf at Books-A-Million, realized it would force me to sing a certain tune, snapped the book shut, and returned it to its place next to The Pout-Pout Fish. No way, José.
Inevitably, these musical potboilers (I just learned this word! Thanks, Thesaurus.com!) came creeping into our home and into my toddler’s heart. They then creeped just as quietly from his heart into the “return to library” bag.
Side Note: I have nothing against the authors of such books. I understand they’re whimsical and creative. Mama just doesn’t wanna sing. I’m lazy in the effort area, especially at 7:30 a.m., when they’re inevitably tossed my way.
I have the feeling author Eric Litwin is just a groovy, musical dude. When Pete the Cat (spoiler!) loses his four groovy buttons, I had to create a tune for this verse:
“My buttons, my buttons, my four groovy buttons! My buttons, my buttons, my four groovy buttons!”
Eh, easy enough. Thankfully, the toddler doesn’t pull a Simon Cowell and judge too harshly.
Mr. Litwin also forced the musical magic on us with his series, The Nuts. This time, though, he made an ingenious move. He recorded his own music and gives it to you for free. This made me love the man.
We started with The Nuts: Sing and Dance in your Polka-Dot Pants. This book made my son jealous of anyone (his baby sister) who owned polka-dot pants. It’s a spunky rhymer about little Hazel Nut who just wanted to get her family to sing and dance with her.
Grandma Nut saves the day when she “disco danced” across the floor. After the story ends, there are dance steps for the Polka-Dot Pants Dance. Just head on over to The Nut Family, and get jammin’!
The Nuts also appear in The Nuts: Bedtime at the Nut House (the puns Crack. Me. Up.) and The Nuts: Keep Rolling!, which I didn’t know existed until today. The website has activities, videos, and more songs to accompany the books. I have all of the Nut songs downloaded on my phone so we can be-bop to “If You’re Nutty and You Know It” in the swagger wagon.
So, back to forced musical melodies.
The Library Doors by Toni Buzzeo
My husband just sighed with disgust when I mentioned this book. Unless you adore “The Wheels on the Bus,” I advise you to avoid this one. I love the idea of reading to my kids about the library, as we spend a fair amount of time there. However, since you’re not allowed to sing in the library, I’m going to avoid singing about said literary land whenever I can.
Pete the Cat: Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star by James Dean
OK, I’ll give ol’ Pete one more shout out. James Dean was the founder of Pete the Cat, along with his wife, Kimberly (cue “awww!”). “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” has nostalgic meaning to me, especially when it comes to my kids. When George was much smaller, he’d ask me to sing the “uppa” song (Up above the world so high…). Presh.
This is one of the few books I don’t mind singing. Apparently, the song has a couple of extra verses no one knows, so that’s pretty sweet too. I mostly like singing this one before nap or bedtime. It’s a good wind-down, and I like to croon like Xtina.
And let’s not get me started on the Five Little Monkeys and all of their issues, one of which includes forcing me to sing. I recently checked out The Five Little Monkeys Go Shopping. Y’all. I just can’t even… Mama Monkey does meet an apparently single dad, though, so that may be worth further investigation. And, yes, this dad also loses his children, one of which hitches a ride with Mama (eye roll).
Have you found yourself caught in the tune trap? Please give a shout!
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