I used to sing for them—and whether or not they like it—I still do.

I grew up in a family where we burst out in song as a regular practice. Just ask my husband—he thought it was a little bit odd when he first met my family members. My dad was into acting and loved both movie and Broadway musicals while my mom was a music teacher and choral director.

I admit that I am just that nerdy that I would sit around for hours next to the stereo singing along to Oliver. My mother taught me to sing harmony from hymnals. Legend says that my brother, at just over one-year-old, belted out “Angels From the Realms of Glory” during a pause in an early December church service. No “Jingle Bells” for him and no one taught him that song either.

No, our mom used to rock us to “Rock-A-Bye Two Kids” as it was called in our house. We heard her giving piano lessons in our home and went along with her to band and choir competitions. All our earliest baby-sitters were musicians. And holiday get-togethers with our cousins always meant our mom leading the clan in 4 to 8-part harmony.

In my husband’s home, the only thing the whole family sang was “Is That All There Is?” by Peggy Lee. It wasn’t his mother’s fault—poor woman, with three sons, she could only get the dog to join in during her vocal warm-up sessions.

Of course, I was singing to my babies by our first morning home alone, even though I didn’t remember any lullabies. They heard songs I’d learned from the crazy music teacher (not my mother, although she was crazy in her own way!) who taught us old tunes like “Five Foot Two” and “You Are My Sunshine” that he accompanied with a banjo or ukulele! I also subjected them to songs I made up for our two overly jealous English Springer Spaniels who were feeling left out during feeding times.

You can bet that those early experiences, along with preschool and Barney (!), got our kids singing at a young age. They loved to sing in Home Base where the cavernous ceilings provided acoustics fit for concert hall performances. At different times they would each sit alone at the piano and make up songs as they went along.

Christiana, in particular, had all the makings of a great coffee house singer. However, after she learned her right from left in taekwondo, she developed a beautiful voice with a much larger range (her grandma Mae always swore that a person needed to know right from left to sing well!) She sang while she created art masterpieces. She sang while she strung blocks and train tracks across the family room floor. She sang as she climbed rocks while hiking and while skiing down mountains.

Jackson may have joined the school choir first, but she was the one who decided to pursue singing with a more advanced community choir. Her music-reading skills grew by leaps and bounds while she learned to sing harmony and developed more techniques. But her knowledge came with a great price: she stopped singing both around the house and in the great outdoors.

It’s only in the last year, a year after her choir trip to Hawaii, that she has begun to share her voice again with us. Not much, but occasionally the notes will slip out.

“There’s nothing I wouldn’t give for one more time when (she) can sing for (me).” (Tracy Chapman, “Sing For You,” 2008)

That’s right, I remember there was a time when she used to sing for me.

Do, do, do, do, do, do, do.

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