I like to sing around the house. Always have. Sometimes it’s a sitcom jingle. Other times it’s about my cat Monty. It could be a song from a commercial too. The point is, it doesn’t matter what I’m singing.
What matters is that my daughter hates it.
It doesn’t take much to set her off. Maybe I’ll hum a few bars or start whistling. I might even get through one full lyric. But without exception, I’ll get the following angry response: “Stop singing, Daddy!” Now, let me assure you she doesn’t say this in a playful way. No, she means it, and makes sure that I know she does. There are pointed fingers, hands over her ears, bared teeth, and minutes of wailing. Sometimes she’ll even emphasize her point with a follow-up.
“You stop singing now.” Sigh.
I honestly don’t know why Audrey hates my singing, humming, and whistling. And frankly it upsets me a bit. I know I’m not the best singer in the world. I’m no Josh Groban. I’m never been confused for that dashing rogue Hugh Jackman either. But I’m not so bad as to elicit anger. Yet, that’s exactly what comes about. Anger. And lots of it.
Hey, I understand not everyone is a big “Mr. Belvedere” fan, but is the theme song worthy of such vitriol?
I didn’t think so. Yet, all I need to do is croon “Streaks on the china… Never mattered before… Who cares…” and Audrey will throw herself headfirst into a mighty tantrum, leaving me with my chin against my chest, sad and miserable.
So, why is this? Why does she hate my singing so much? Let’s look at some possible reasons.
Reason #1: Kids Don’t Like “Mr. Belvedere”
My wife—a frequent witness to such music-related outbursts—believes that Audrey hates my singing because I’m not singing songs she wants to hear. After all, I’m not singing “Wheels on the Bus” or “Old McDonald”. No, I’m singing about our cat or a fish-out-of-water butler and Bob Uecker. It makes sense that she wouldn’t like my singing if I’m not singing songs she likes. I get that. But this is easily tested, is it not?
So, in recent weeks I have tested this theory a bit. I’ve tried humming or singing songs she likes. You know, stuff like the aforementioned “Wheels on the Bus” or even theme songs from shows she likes—“Sesame Street”, stuff like that. The response?
“Stop singing Daddy!”
Alrighty then. Guess that theory is out the window. So what else could be the cause?
Reason #2: Too Much Rat Pack, Not Enough Raffi
I sing low. You know, croony-style. Oh, I’m no Sinatra or Dean. Not even close, but I do sing lower than Raffi or those chipper people on the “Kidz Bop” CDs. So, that made me wonder: is this the cause of her hatred? Do I sing too low for her? Do I need to pep it up a bit? Well, this too was easy to test, if not a bit emasculating. So…
I sang high.
I’m happy to say that Audrey was the only witness. I’m also quite pleased that her communication skills are not to the point where she could recount the experience with her mother or any of my friends. In short, it was embarrassing—made all the more so by the fact that it didn’t change one thing.
“You stop singing, Daddy.”
So I did.
Reason #3: It’s Me
Having eliminated the above possibilities, I was left with few alternatives. One obvious one remained, however.
Am I just a terrible singer? Do I have an inaccurate and warped view on my singing capabilities? Do ears bleed when I bust out a little “Who’s the Boss?”
I mean, what other possibility could there be? Audrey hates everything I do musically no matter how I do it. And she seems to only have this reaction with me. Not my wife, nor anyone on the radio or TV. Just me. So that must be the cause, right? I’m a terrible singer and my daughter has a little Simon Cowell in her.
This was a sad revelation for me. As I’ve said, I like to croon around the house. I’ve been doing it all my life and I don’t particularly want to change. But if this was the sort of reaction I was going to get, then…well, maybe it was time to stop.
Then yesterday came along. And with it, a breakthrough.
Audrey and I were getting lunch ready while “The Price is Right” was on in the background. This is the only show I try to watch every day while at home. Audrey half-watches it with me too—she likes the jumping around and screaming. Around 11:55 a.m. each day a certain commercial comes on. I’ve mentioned it on this blog before and since I’ve become a stay at home father I just can’t stop singing the jingle around the house.
Yesterday, after the commercial was over, I started singing the jingle again, as I am often wont to do.
ME: “Hoveround takes me where I want to go…”
That was when it happened. Audrey turned to me with a giant grin and did something she had never done before.
HER: “Where will it send me?”
She sang the next line of the song! Unprompted and unplanned, my daughter followed up my singing with the very next line. I completely lost it, laughing and clapping like one of the game show’s contestants. I was amazed she knew the lyrics without practice. And more importantly, she was participating with me! She wasn’t telling me to stop singing. She wasn’t pointing. She wasn’t getting mad. No.
She was singing WITH me. And all it took was the Hoveround jingle. Amazing.
Suddenly I was bursting with confidence once more. It wasn’t the fact that it was ME singing that was angering her. It couldn’t be if she was happily singing along with me now! It had to be something else. Of course, that mystery still remains, but maybe…just maybe…this was the start of something new. Perhaps the days of telling me to stop singing are over. Perhaps this is even the first step toward a successful father-daughter singing duo enterprise in the future!
Or maybe she’ll just continue to tell me to stop. Nevertheless, thanks to Hoveround, my singing and crooning can continue unabated. At least for now.
My family will be thrilled, no doubt.