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In years to come this boy of mine may ask “how old was I when I walked/grew teeth/spoke” or “what was my first word?” and be disappointed to hear that I was not a proper mother and I did not purchase, let alone fill in, a Baby Book. The Bloke and I had made a pact to treat him like second born, and anyway we figured if he met all those milestones before anyone worried about his development then it was all ok.

I don’t know what the average age for first composition is. I’m fairly sure I wrote my first song aged 8 to coincide with the visit of the Pope to Australia. I was keen to tackle the big themes. I don’t remember how it went, but I do remember being quite proud of myself for working away at it. I wrote my second song aged 28 when my baby wouldn’t stop crying. It’s not a show stopper, but it made me feel better, and he has grown to like it. I asked once if Daddy was allowed to sing it, he was most insistent that no one else was allowed. It is ours.

Yesterday morning, after the usual moaning and groaning and whining about tv and computer time and all the toys being boring, he went to the keyboard and wrote a song. It’s about how the brand of our tv matches the stereo. He filmed himself playing it and then wrote down the notes. Musicians will see his notation system is unique, I was asked to play this evening from his written version. I basically made it up, don’t tell him that.

My sister wrote her first song when she was 19, when she had recently been diagnosed with leukaemia. It was a country spoof, about the Quest for the Ultimate Housemate, it was for me in honour of the crazy housemate I’d just moved away from. It’s the best present I’ve ever been given.

Some months later, when she knew she wasn’t going to get better she wrote another song. It is called Red. While she was in hospital Cazz made friends with Pete Murray, who promised to record the song for her. The song was recorded and soon it will be released. If you fancy joining me in making paper cranes and being in the music video, and you’re free this Sunday, please come along.

I will be the one trying to console the small boy, who thought we would be making cranes, which you build things with, not birds.

13 November ยท 10:30 – 14:30
The Pioneer Womens Garden , Royal Botanical Gardens
Off Alexander Parade, up the the big grassy hill
Melbourne, Australia

We need at least 350 people to turn up to the Royal Botanical Gardens – at the Pioneers Women’s Memorial Garden to join in making RED PAPER CRANES. Please bring along plain red paper, double sided red, standard origami size or squares cut from a Standard A4, we will also supply some, and there will be people on hand to teach you. You can practice between now and then on various You Tube’ How to make paper crane’ videos. And bring along any red ones you make. We have a Facebook page Pete’s Promise, visit it for updates and to show your support for the filming day. Bring everyone you know.
We will be filming you making cranes and placing them in trees.
All ages welcome!

Dress casual but please dont wear RED, if it’s raining we will do it on the 20th Nov.

We also thought we should squeeze in a bit more inner city cool before we move away from it. So we took the kid to another gig by the same band we saw yesterday. He loved it. That might not have been obvious to anyone else. He stared. He stared at the instruments, he stared at the musos, he stared at the pint-sized moshpit up the front. For the second last song he joined in the jumping, but stayed very close to Daddy while doing it. He hasn’t stopped talking about the gig since we left.

The Mudcakes totally rock. Music for the sort of kids who have Dads who signed them up to subscribe to public radio. Next week they’re playing the Footscray Community Arts Centre, which is an excellent place to eat, drink and ignore your children while they kick a footy or ride bikes, because the cafe there provides lots and lots of toys. If you can’t get there in person, buy their cds online. They’re both good. They even have a song about toilet training.

It doesn’t hurt that they play licenced venues either.

If you have children you probably have a cd or dvd (or a collection of them) by a band that start with W and wear skivvies. That’s ok. I’m not anti-Ws (if you say the name my nephew will want you to put the dvd on now). Not anti, just not really pro either. I can deal with small doses of the tv show or the cds. I can’t deal with the trademark on everything that moves phenomena. I just don’t want the Wiggles tent in my loungeroom (my mother has one in her loungeroom, and the kids love it, but I assume they would love a tent sans-Ws too).

The Wiggles Only music diet of some kids has me a little concerned, as concerned as I’d be if they were only ever offered potato for dinner. Potato is good, but on it’s own it’s not a great diet. So, in the interests of diversifying the musical diet I’m going for the opposite of ‘eat local’ and I’m saying ‘download global’ (legally, and paying actual musicians for their work, obviously, very important to obey the Tram Rule*).

So far my List of Kid-friendly Music that Doesn’t Make My Toes Curl and I wouldn’t mind if my kid received it for Christmas is:

The Mudcakes (Melbourne-based, formerly Nashville-based, members are in grown up bands too)
Woody Guthrie’s kid’s albums, including 20 Grow Big Songs
Jason Ringenberg’s Farmer Jason albums, he’s also a grown up muso with a (separate) kid-friendly persona.

Dan Zanes has lots of albums, you can even do what I did last Christmas and order a box set, divide it up and give one album to each neice or nephew. My kid currently has one album, he may be downloading some more.

Do you have any suggestions?

It doesn’t have to be labelled ‘kid music’ (or family music, or kindie rock) but it does have to avoid Adult Themes as they say in the television classifying world. I’d like him to hear stuff he understands and enjoys as well as all the long car trips where we make him listen to Paul Kelly and Mick Thomas and Gillian Welch. There really was a car trip where we could have sworn he groaned at Paul Kelly and it felt like we had a teenager. Only twelve years early. There are lots of performers I think should release a kid’s album, like Rebecca Barnard, but I fear blog-nagging wont be enough.

Maybe if everyone blog-nags? While we’re at it, Rod Quantock for Playschool!

* Always pay to acquire music from any muso you could potentially see on a tram. This suggests it’s morally ok to burn a free copy of someone’s music if they are gettin’ around in limos on a regular basis, obviously that’s not legally true and I take no responsibility for you getting into trouble with the record companies.

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