Sunday, March 01, 2015

The Duck Song

I used to tell young parents that until their kids learned to read, there was no sedating them.

We've since learned that television does a more than admirable job Not that I'm condoning it. FD and I literally cut the power cord. He transformed the piece still attacked to the TV to a female, and added a male connector to the other (both ends male) and either took it with him to work, or hid it where we thought they would never think to find it. They would, of course, we heard years later, and dangerously fiddled with the double-ended male electrical cord, eventually turning on the tube to watch He-Man and the like.  It is a miracle no one electrocuted themselves.

But anything electronic will lull most of us into a state of uncomfortable consciousness, sleep without the glitter. There seems to be research to the effect that our electronics keep us awake. It isn't that way for everyone, and with very small children the effect might be paradoxical. It probably depends upon what they see and how much sugar they had before bed. There are always variables unaccounted for.
Steven Kellogg and Margaret Mahey treasures

Sometimes I have the privilege of putting my grandson to sleep, apparently a task no other babysitter is equipped to do, and we have a routine and it includes both the hard and the soft drugs, meaning real books hard, and animation or old Beatles songs on my phone, soft. He'd love to ditch the paper in favor of the electronic, but I won't let him. He can read, too, if he tries. He's almost six.

Fact is, when children can't read yet, or are only just beginning to read, someone has to read to them, or should read to them, for reading is a wonderful sedative and we depend upon it to learn, that and other ways. Bedtime is the best time to introduce it. Mother Goose is totally out, by the way, a bad idea, as Into the Woods has made abundantly clear, too violent and libidinous. Aesop's fables, surely had a moral, but at what price, nightmares?

But remember the frog and toad books? They're still around. And if you've never met Robert, not lived through his experiences with hippos following him home from school, you haven't lived. We gorged on anything by Steven Kellogg in my family (Can I Keep Him?), and checking Amazon, there are no less than 641 pages of books by the celebrated author-illustrator. He also wrote the Pinkerton books. Let's not forget The Green Bath by Margaret Mahy, and Much Bigger Than Martin, a story in every younger brother's top five. 

My daughter-in-law surprised me when she said that she sits on the floor with her little guys, just two, and they stare at her phone, watch the animated version of Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. It is on YouTube.  Don't judge. Watch it. I dare you to stay awake. 

So that got me started, but when I showed it to their cousin one night, perched on his enormously tall bed in pajamas the very first time, he did not fall asleep and only wanted to see more animation. So we scrolled through the suggested children's books on video, rejecting most of them as too seedy or too boring, and suddenly we found The Duck Song. (The song by Bryant Oden, video, Forrest Whaley). This is not about Donald. It is an upbeat video-joke, obviously a song Bryant made-up while trying to put somebody to sleep, monotonous but cheery, seemingly never-ending, with a punchline at the end. We kind of love it. At almost six, my grandson gets it that the duck's mission is to annoy the guy at the lemonade stand. A duck walks up to a lemonade stand and he says to the man running the stand, "Hey, you got any. . .grapes?" The duck is teasing him, pure and simple.

Last night I have the honors, and as we cuddle up on this enormously high bed looking for something new and fun on YouTube, the closest thing to new and fun is a video of a small group of children between 5 and 13 watching The Duck Song, discussing their reactions. Some are really angry at the duck for being so annoying (they must have younger siblings). Some get it, like my grandson gets it, that it is fun to be the object of a prank, and it is fun to be the perpetrator of the joke, too. Best to be able to take it, even better, to predict it.

Great moral, teaching about being the brunt of a joke, handing over the control, even if it is to a duck. How many kids have avoided depression in just this way, by laughing at themselves?


P.S. I realize it is not that simple, avoiding depression, and the anti-bullying programs are late, but here to stay, for good reason. Bullying and child-adolescence are associated, so if your child is the object, do not tell him, Hey, just laugh along. Get a family therapist and talk to the people at the school. But there is such a thing as benign teasing, meant to be taken well.

And when I need a good laugh, all I have to do is ask a six-year-old, almost any six-year-old,  "Hey, got any grapes?"

P.S.S. For all the years I've been blogging, I still don't know how to create links in a consistent fashion. Just know that any type that isn't black is probably a link to a book, or a movie, or a resource. It could be yellow, ochre, red, scarlet, or if you are color-challenged, another shade, but it will take you somewhere if you click on it. 


Leah said...

Do you mean that about Mother Goose? :(

therapydoc said...

It never bothered me, honestly. :)

clairesmum said...

have you checked with the folks over at the shrink rap blog? they have a thing for emotional security ducks....
i checked out the video and found it annoying..but i don't hang out with that age bracket either...but I loved Steven Kellogg, Roald Dahl, etc..and still do! Books and bedtime rituals that involve music and stories help with sleep at any age.

Better Things-- Seeing Ghosts