“You are my sunshine,
my only sunshine (along with your brother, who is also my sunshine).
You (in concert with your brother) make me happy
when skies are gray . . .”
Since we’ve had our second child, we have been careful about the words to the little songs of endearment we sing to the baby. Not wanting to inspire jealousy by leaving the older sibling out, we do all we can to fit our high regard for everybody into the song.
This requires us to think on our feet, because few songs of endearment are intended to address multiple individuals. Imagine Roberta Flack singing, The First Time Ever I Saw Your Several Faces or Sinatra crooning that classic, It Had to be You. . . and That Other Guy Over There. It is probably for the best that most love songs focus upon a single individual, but this means that parents who need to spread the love around may have to cut and paste.
There is nothing so sweet and melodic as parents singing sweet nothings to their babies, except when the melody is held suspended by the insertion of clarifying, parenthetical phrases. These phrases must be added whenever Big Brother is within earshot. At his age, he gets fewer songs of his own. Therefore, he must be included as an addendum to his baby brother’s lullabies. This leads to verses like the one at the top.
We are lucky that our preschooler exhibits hardly any jealousy toward his baby brother. The big boy likes having a little brother. Our only worry about his attitude toward the baby is that he sometimes wants to hug his little brother too vigorously. He doesn’t quite understand how fragile a baby is. When he becomes most zealous to show affection for the baby, we stand guard, ready to prevent the reenactment of a scene from Of Mice and Men.
We are careful not to fritter away our good fortune. My wife often reminds me to avoid telling Big Brother that I can’t pay him immediate attention because I am tending to Little Brother. This could cause resentment. Instead, I have to make up excuses that sound something like, “I can’t play trains with you right now because I have to get all of the milk out of this bottle through this tiny hole. Luckily, your little brother is really good at this sort of thing. With his help, I’ll be done and ready to play with you by nightfall.”
My kids may grow up singing the wrong lyrics to many decades’ worth of popular (and unpopular) songs, and believing that babies take bottles to help rid their parents of troublesome milk surpluses, but I won’t laugh at them. As long as they like and respect each other, I’ll tolerate their crazy notions. To my boys, I will make every allowance for such misconceptions, because, as Debby Boone was fond of singing, “Y’all light up my life.”