I think for the most part people find a lullaby that’s familiar to them – maybe even one that their parents sang when they were infants. My mother sang Baa Baa Black Sheep to me. But when The Kid came into the world I wasn’t actually prepared with anything (I didn’t even know the words to my mother’s favorite rhyme) and ended up making up a little song while we were passing our sleepless nights at the hospital. It went like this:

Bouncy bouncy baby

Who’s the bounciest baby in the room

You’re the bounciest baby in the room

If it’s not already clear, it was meant to be sung while bouncing the baby around the close confines of the hospital room. This seemed to work just fine for the first few weeks. But when The Kid turned five weeks he started getting inconsolable during the early evening hours, or from around 5 to 8 pm. We didn’t realize it right away but we had what most people think of as a colicky baby. At first we were reluctant to take The Kid out for walks in the early evening because he was a winter baby and it was quite cold out in January and February in the Northeast. But after listening to him scream without much of a letup day after day our thinking quickly evolved.

I started taking The Kid for walks at 5 or 6 pm when his restless state seemed to kick in. The cold be damned. The cool night air really seemed to soothe the savage beast that was our son at the time. It soon became clear that this was the only way to go. The only question was, what to sing to him? Bouncy Baby didn’t make sense any more because The Kid was in the stroller, comfortably ensconced in the bassinet attachment. I needed a new song, even if it might be difficult to hear over the passing traffic. First, you should know our route. We live a few blocks away from the Time Warner Center in Manhattan and walk down Broadway to get there. As a lifelong West Sider, Broadway is probably the most meaningful avenue for me. So a song from my youth readily came to mind: Rhinestone Cowboy by Glen Campbell. I was still able to remember the chorus on one of our first walks, which goes like this:

I’ve been walkin’ these streets so long
Singin’ the same old song
I know every crack in these dirty sidewalks of Broadway
Where hustle’s the name of the game
And nice guys get washed away like the snow and the rain
There’s been a load of compromisin’
On the road to my horizon
But I’m gonna be where the lights are shinin’ on me

Like a rhinestone cowboy
Riding out on a horse in a star-spangled rodeo
Like a rhinestone cowboy
Getting cards and letters from people I don’t even know
And offers comin’ over the phone

That bitter, sweet theme was just perfect for a sleep deprived dad. I was also getting to know all of the cracks on Broadway on the way to the Time Warner Center. Now that The Kid is a year old, baths have replaced the early evening walks, but I still sing him Rhinestone Cowboy. Nursery rhymes don’t have much meaning for the infants. At best The Kid matches the rhythm of the song while saying, “ba ba ba.” But songs can certainly be meaningful to the parents, particularly if a song just seems to choose you, almost like it was written with you in mind.

 

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