ONE of the situations where I am of use when it comes to raising Isay is rocking her to sleep. I have learned to change soiled nappies but still make a few mistakes here and there. I have learned to bottle- and cup-feed her, but we make quite a mess sometimes. Bathing her is still life’s next big adventure. But rocking her to sleep, I’ve got that pretty down pat.
I cradle her securely in my arms and then feel out cues as to what she wants. A lot of times, Isay wants you to walk her around. She gets restless even if you sway her from side-to-side or gently rock her. Sometimes, she wants you to carry her upright, her chubby cheeks resting on the shoulder. If she’s in a good mood, you can just set her down on the bed or in her crib and she’ll go to sleep on her own.
The one constant thing through all this? She wants to hear you. Whether it’s singing, humming, reading the Desiderata or narrating a fairy tale, the sound of your voice reassures her a lot and makes her sleeping easier.
With that in mind, let me share you the songs I love to sing to her when it’s time for her to grab a few winks.
1. Part of that world
The main ditty from the Little Mermaid cartoon is my go-to song of choice probably because it is my favorite of all Disney pop tunes. It’s a song of longing to belong. And when Ariel moves to reprise and belts out:
Where would we walk?
Where would we run?
If we could stay all day in the sun?
Just you and me
And I could be
Part of your world
I don’t know when
I don’t know how
But I know something’s starting right now
Watch and you’ll see
Some day I’ll be
Part of your world
…you get that same yearning of wanting to be part of Isay’s world.
2. Beauty and the beast
I’ve wanted to have a daughter since I was in high school, believe it or not. Decades later, when I finally became a dad, I realized how poorly equipped I was for fatherhood.
It’s a scary role to take on, being the protector and provider of a little one whose chances of survival rest solely on two adults. But it’s scarier to be Isay. There’s a lot she doesn’t understand about the world around her and I’m pretty sure it can be overwhelming to one’s primal, undeveloped senses.
That’s why I mess around with this song’s lyrics a bit
Both a little scared
Neither one prepared
Isay and daddy
3. You are so beautiful
It was time for Isay’s early evening nap. I was cradling her in my arms. I looked at the window and right before me was a skyline sprayed with the most brilliant sunset colors I had ever seen.
You don’t get that beautiful a sunset in this part of the city. And if you follow my Instagram account (@francistjochoa), you’ll know I love sunsets. And yet somehow, when I looked down at the little girl I was carrying, the sunset became a mere postscript to the beauty that was staring back at me.
4. Star spangled banner
Don’t ask. I don’t know why either.
I mean, Isay’s going to be proudly Filipino. She’s going to dedicate whatever talents she will develop to the betterment of her country. I can’t even sing the American anthem with correct lyrics.
But hey, if it gets her to sleep at 4 a.m. when I have an early appointment a few hours later, by all means.
5. Here comes the sun
When we do our walks in the playground early in the morning, she needs to be asleep by the time we head back to our home.
This song feels so appropriate.
6. A whole new world
I used to sing this song to my niece, Cheska, who is like a daughter to me.
It’s Isay’s turn to listen to me belt this one out and promise her a “shining, shimmering, splendid” world.
7. Gaano ko ikaw kamahal
This really old Filipino song explains how much the singer loves the object of his affection. Plus, I already know the lyrics because we used to sing this in my high school choir.
8. Puff the magic dragon
My father used to sing me this song hen I was a kid. He’d scribble the lyrics on a yellow pad paper so I could sing along with him. He’d also doodle along the sides, drawing ships with billowed sails, pirate ships with lowered flags, and of course, scaly, winged magic dragons with little Jackie Paper sitting on its gigantic tail.
It’s my turn to sing this to Isay. The song has a sad twist in the end, but I still sing the song to her nevertheless to remind her that she shouldn’t grow old too fast, that she should always hold on to painted wings and giant strings and believe in laughing fairies, unicorns prancing on rainbow roads and the absolute, pure joy of singing and dancing in the rain.
There are so many other songs I sing/hum when rocking Isay to sleep, but these eight are the ones on top of my playlist, the ones I regularly turn to when the little one needs to catch a few Zs.
I love singing to my baby daughter. After all, it’s not every day that you get to sing your heart out to someone without that someone complaining about the noise.
Hopw about you guys? What other songs would you recommend?