Over and over again

Posted by Stacy Chandler on March 28, 2013 

Little kids love repetition -- it's a well-known fact. That's why so many beloved children's books build on the same phrases over and over again ("Green Eggs and Ham," anyone?), and why every "Dora the Explorer" episode has the exact same structure, with mostly the exact same songs every time. It's soothing, I guess. 

 

Unless you're a grownup.

 

If you're a grownup, hearing the same thing over and over again is maddening. It's how people go crazy -- and also what some do *after* they go crazy. The latest crazy-inducing repetition at my house is the song "John the Rabbit." Now, look, I actually like that song (here it is performed by the lovely Elizabeth Mitchell). We learned it in a music class we've been taking, and it's fun to sing. It's got a simple tune, it invites interaction and singing together, and you can dance to it, too! But somewhere around the 400th time you hear it in a day, it starts to grate. The "Yes, ma'am" responses come out of the adult's mouth with decreasing liveliness. Soon, it's a mutter, a curse word in a primal language only a weary parent knows.

 

Anyway. While I was giving Nora a bath last night, she launched into "John the Rabbit" for probably the nine millionth time that day. And I just kind of … snapped. Not in a yelling and throwing things kind of way, though I'm pretty sure some part of my brain was totally trashing a room over this -- internally. I just stopped, collected myself, and gave myself over to horrible parenting by asking (nicely!) my child to please. stop. singing. that. song. 

 

"Let's give 'John the Rabbit' a rest today, can we?" I asked, in as even a tone as I could manage. (I even smiled, though, admittedly, my teeth were rather clenchy.) "Maybe we could sing something else instead!"

 

So I tried to implant in her mind some other song we'd learned in music class, something that had only been sung a mere handful of thousands of times that day. And for one glorious minute, it worked! Nora continued her cheery singing, but with another tune, and my brain was relieved both from the repetition and from the shame of having asked my little songbird to pipe down, already.

 

But -- and you saw this coming, didn't you? -- it didn't last. The new song was really just an elaborate lead-in to "John the Rabbit: The Remix." So I took a deep breath, hummed some other song to myself quietly to try to save the gossamer shreds of sanity I had left, and admitted defeat. Yes, ma'am.

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