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Good Choice, Bad Choice: Sing Out Loud


Resolve to be an embarrassment to your children. It’s good for you.

Ann Loyola

Ann Loyola

There comes a time for every parent when we realize that we’ve become a hindrance to our children’s social success. Our very presence can spell doom, especially if we’re dressed inappropriately – and we’re always dressed inappropriately – and heaven forbid if we were to open our mouths and speak while within earshot of our teenagers’ compadres. (At this very moment, a teenager is cringing over my use of the word “compadres”).

One morning, I was driving the kids to school and we were all singing “The Cat Came Back” and that afternoon as I drove them back home, I was forbidden to sing ever again. Ever. Could I hum? No. Could I mouth the words? No. How about drumming on the steering wheel? Nope. That door was closed forever. It was a sad day.

Personal well-being comes in many forms and can be accomplished by getting fit, sitting on a rock in the woods, petting a dog, having circle of supportive friends and family, or what have you. The ability to feel a sense of contentment with one’s life can provide a cushiony foundation that helps us glide more easily through the rough spots that are inevitable. For me, singing had been a simple outlet of self-expression even though I was told at an early age that – as my husband likes to say – I can’t carry a tune in a bucket.

After auditioning three times and being turned down each time, the only reason I was allowed in the 5th grade choir was because my mother and father made countless phone calls to the principal’s office. I suspect that money passed hands because the music teacher suddenly had a new pitch pipe. The girl who stood next to me in the choir would punch my shoulder furtively every time I was off-key, so the punching was constant.

As I grew older, I was certain that my voice was maturing and after belting out “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” over and over again while showering, there was no doubt in my mind that I had outgrown the tone deafness diagnosis given to me by my rude music teacher. In my early twenties, I continued to sing out loud. Once, while dusting the furniture, I was feeling particularly smug with my stirring rendition of Streisand’s “People Who Need People” when my beloved cat streaked past me and hid under the couch, tail lashing as he prepared to battle a litter of yowling tomcats. It was a setback, for sure.

Then the children came along and I found an audience. There was no end to “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and we rowed rowed rowed the boat, and I sang every song on the radio out loud while driving them around.  Even “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” was a hit.

These days, the only song I’m permitted to sing is an ancient song from Prohibition times about a pinch-nosed woman comparing a drunkard to a pig, resulting in great insult to the pig. My kids will join in on the chorus every time and will permit me to sing this ditty to their friends. But that’s it.

I’ve concluded that I needn’t kowtow to every outrageous demand made by my children so I do sing while driving alone and while vacuuming. It makes me feel better and who am I harming, really? While I do avoid giving unsolicited advice, I feel compelled to advise parents of all ages: go ahead and dance in front of the mirror, sing at the top of your lungs, put streamers on your bike and wear hats with earflaps.  There’s still a lot of fun to be had.

Disclaimer: This blog discusses my personal wellness goals and is in no way a soapbox to tell anyone else how to eat, exercise and/or live their lives.


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