Since Àlvaro was born, we have sung tons of nursery rhymes and children’s songs, many of them on a daily basis. Every day, at every hour – in the morning, in the bathroom, in the car on the way to school, at meal time, at bedtime, etc. Really fun and catchy songs like «Five Little Monkeys» that the kids love and that get them singing and dancing and interacting with the song.
But for us, many of these songs provoke a bit of anxiety because every time we sing it it makes us think, “Ugh, this doesn’t represent our family at all.” So little by little have we either started to mumble over the unrepresentative words and pronouns, or changed words, or in some cases just avoid singing the songs all together.
And this isn’t just important for homoparental families, but for any family – for children to see their father involved with the family.
Until one day, not so long ago, in the middle of singing one of these songs, Manuel said, “This is so annoying, why don’t we just record the songs ourselves the way we want them to be?” And so the idea was born to start recreating many of the songs that our son and daughter liked so much, but made us feel uncomfortable.
It didn’t seem like it would be very difficult. The idea was simple, yet so far no one (that we know of) had done it. We thought that all we had to do was to adapt the songs to different types of family models. But, although it seems easy, when you get into the details, you realize that there is a lot that needs to be done – hire musicians, singers, a studio to record. Then things started to get a bit out of hand because we are a just a middle class family with tight financial resources. But we were so eager and so excited about the project, that we decided to go ahead with it. And with these songs, we hope to contribute our grain of sand in the development of all children, helping them understand that families come in all shapes and sizes.
Mothers are great (we both have moms :-), but there are many children that don’t have a mother because they come from a different type of family model. So we believe that in the early years it is better for them to hear these well known nursery rhymes adapted to their family, because we know from experience that one small change means so much for them.
For example, in all the different versions that can be found online of the song «Five Little Monkeys» there is not one where it is the father who calls the doctor, when the little monkeys fall and bump their heads, it is always the mother who calls. Well, from now on, there IS a version where it´s the father who calls the doctor!
In the case of children who have two mommies, there is a wider variety of songs where a female figure is the protagonist. But there are still songs that only represent traditional mother/father families so we have created mommy/mama versions of a few songs as well, like “Finger Family” and “Rain, Rain, Go Away”.
The importance of music and simple rhythms
There are countless developmental benefits of exposing our children to music in the early years of their lives ranging from sensory and psychomotor to cognitive, intellectual and emotional. It activates the early mechanisms of the formation of language, both verbal, with the first sounds that they try to imitate, as well as nonverbal, with the first gestures they make and associate with specific moments of the songs.
When a boy or a girl sing a song with rhymes and gestures, they are practicing language and making movements that promote coordination and balance. And at the same time, having fun.
Music also promotes the development of empathy, which in turn can be a great antidote to aggressiveness and ultimately makes our children feel happier through the release of dopamine in the parts of brain related to pleasure and emotions. It is essential to stimulate our little ones, and music and simple songs are a perfect way to do that.