My love/hate relationship with Susie Tallman and children’s songs

My love/hate relationship with Susie Tallman and children's songs-ipod
Several months ago, my toddler and I stopped by the library and sat in the children’s area. Another mom was already there, playing with her little girl when suddenly I heard the mom sing under her breath, “Old King Cole was a merry old soul, and a merry old soul was heeee…” Old King Cole is a popular children’s song, but this woman sang it in the same eerily slow and scary tune as the one that had been playing in my head. I wanted to grab her by the shoulders and say, “Susie Tallman is in your head, too!”

According to my iTunes, we have 7.7 hours of children’s songs we’ve somehow amassed. And we hear them—all the time, so much so that I now know the lyrics to almost every single one of those songs. I’ve learned that some words are real (“What the heck is a ‘kookaburra’?” I asked my husband), while others—’tisket’ nor ‘tasket’—are technically not. I can sing the longest name (“John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt”) and sing a tongue twister in four different speeds (“Skidamarink kadink kadink skidamarink kidoo”). And some of the songs just make me blush, like the one where a grandma sings “The Owl and Pussycat” and mentions… oh, about five hundred times how beautiful the *ahem* is.

I am mired in a web of children’s songs, all on constant loop, shuffling through our home and our cars. Hundreds of these songs have made their way into my subconscious as I sing or hum about ants marching ten by ten, how easy it is to count by tens, or why ten little monkeys were jumping on the bed.

Still, my toddler seems to enjoy these songs. He went through a phase where the song hasn’t even started yet and he was already asking, “What’s this song?” Or he would be able to identify the songs on just two seconds into it. The best part is hearing him sing the lyrics to songs I never even knew he paid attention to (unfortunately when he’s supposed to be napping). He has even convinced me to make a fool of myself and dance to “Six Little Ducks,” flapping my arms on each “quack” while he laughs hysterically at his crazy mom.

I’ve since stopped playing children’s songs exclusively, for the sake of my sanity and so that my toddler can hear other styles too. For instance, he likes songs from the Beatles, Chuck Berry, James Brown and Eddie Cochran (we figured he’d like a few songs about yellow submarines and jellybeans). We also play classical music since it sounds beautiful—and has no tongue twisters.

That said, I don’t think we’ll be giving up “The Suze,” as my husband and I affectionately call Susie Tallman and all our hundreds of other children’s songs. My toddler still enjoys listening to them, and sadly, I think I secretly like them too. That may be the reason why I will gladly dance a hip hop number to Susie Tallman’s “Buffalo Gals,” to the embarrassment of my husband and toddler.

Do you listen to children’s songs in your house?

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12 thoughts on “My love/hate relationship with Susie Tallman and children’s songs

  1. This made me laugh! I’m so glad I’m not the only one. My boss caught me singing in my office the other day. “We’re bubbles.we’re bubbles. We like to pop…” I think he is now certain I’m totally insane. Lol

  2. My kids love love LOVE music. They recieved two disks of silly songs for Christmas, which include John Jacob Jingleheimer Scmidt, Down By the Bay, and other children songs. They also are huge fans of Adele (my Christmas gift) and fast-paced dance songs that I’ve deemed acceptable for the occasional listen, such as Sean Kingston’s ‘Fire-Burning” or Party Rock Anthem’s ‘Shuffling’. The kids love to get up and dance, and there’s nothing cuter than hearing them sing along to Someone Like You or Firework.

  3. Try Putumayo playground for variety. There are lots of world children’s songs. I have them (a few of them) on Pandora. Tina Malia … Rene and Jeremy, etc. Honestly, disney does not have to be that bad, but I can’t do the Mickey Mouse club! I like Joe Scruggs, and some of the sesame street, but can’t stomach Barney. And, if you get tired of children’s songs, some of the broadway tunes are good enough to be childlike: Annie, The Music Man, etc. some movie tunes are good, like from the Prince of Egypt. You can also reword some of the pop stuff, if you are clever and then get the karaoke versions. Some of Michael Buble, Ingred Michaelsen, etc are good fotter b/c not much has to be changed. I’ve thought about this way way too much!

  4. I have never even heard of Susan Tallman. My first thought was Suze Orman.

    Coffee Powered Mom mentioned Down by the Bay. Emilia learned that one in preschool, and it is pretty much stuck in my head ALL THE TIME. I love that Emilia brings new music into our lives, but sometimes I feel like saying, STOP THE MADNESS. Then I remember that someday she will be listening to some newfangled music I do not enjoy at all, and it will probably be the pulse of our entire house. I…may have done that when I was a teenager. 🙂

  5. We do, although I have no idea who Susie Tallman is. We’ve got a couple of CDs by Renee and Jeremy, as well as three Rockabye Baby CDs (The Beatles, another Beatles, and Coldplay, FWIW), and some by Keb Mo’, Bare Naked Ladies, They Might Be Giants, and John Lithgow. Although we really should play them more–we all like them.

  6. I can so relate!! I have started playing children’s music that I can stand and that we both can appreciate. Right now we are liking Frances England. But yes. There are only so many kids songs I can take! 🙂

  7. I totally love this! Not only do I find myself dancing ridiculously to children’s songs, I have most of the cartoons my son watches memorized. My partner and I often jokingly recite them to each other–even when Baby isn’t around!

    • OMG… you’re me when I was nine years old! (Okay maybe that didn’t make you feel better lol). But when my sister and I were younger, we watched so many Disney movies and even recited the *entire* Little Mermaid to each other one day.

  8. Nice post – interesting topic.
    We LOVE music in our house. My husband (former DJ) much more than I. But when I was pregnant with my daughter he had learned somewhere that having a baby listen to complicated musical rhythms would make them better at math. And considering I’m terrible at math – I said “Sign me up”. Thus began our collection of music that my daughter listens too. None of which are children’s songs.

    I feel a little guilty that she isn’t exposed to children’s songs – like some how I’m robbing her of her childhood in some way. But to be quite honest, I can’t stand them. It’s like nails on a chalkboard to me. At this point I think I might be the only parent who’s child gets super excited when the artist “Sade” comes on her iPod.

    Sadly, I don’t even know children’s songs. Hmm.. maybe I should ask my own mother about that. My daughter has medical complications that have set her back a bit so she has therapies several times a week. I recall a funny conversation that I had with her developmental therapist when she suggested singing and using hand gestures to help enhance my daughters mobility, strength, and communication skills. It was at that moment I had to admit to her that as an almost 40yr old woman I didn’t know the words to any children’s songs – let alone hand gestures. The look on her face was priceless. Like I was from another planet. She handled it well and told me that she would teach us BOTH. Nice. The next week she brought me sheets of lyrics to common children’s nursery rhymes.
    Ahhh…. the things I’m learning for my girlie! 😉

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