ms. fresh fish


Farewell to Hush-A-Bye
November 21, 2012, 2:34 pm
Filed under: a & e, babies, ottawa, recommendations

When the Twinkies were still fresh and new, my dear friend KL enthusiastically encouraged me to sign up for a sing-song group called Hush-a-Bye, run by Alice Davidson in Ottawa. At that time, I was in no place to argue, or think, so I just did. And I’m so thankful for it.

This is a classic group of song-singing new (or new-again) parents (not just Moms!), along with some grandparents and some nannies, assembled in a church basement for 90 minutes once a week. Alice, a proud grandmother herself, bakes ridiculously delicious goods every week as though she knows that for parents who are sleep-deprived and maybe slightly at their wit’s end, a piece of blueberry coffee cake could be what saves them, at least for the subsequent hour. She also cuts up fresh fruit for the kiddies for when they’re full of the cake.

We sing songs that I’ve never heard before. I get the feeling that they’re British-based, given the emphasis on tea, laddies and lassies. Some of the songs are complete gibberish. Amazingly, these are the ones I remember the most easily. There are bounces and tickles and dances. And did I mention the baked goods?

Alice’s smile is so warm. She remembers every child and parent’s name. She has a lovely voice. She has been so accommodating to this twin mom, both financially and physically. Baby B has done more of the dances in Alice’s arms than mine, so that she’s never felt left out. (Of note: Baby A gets Mommy’s arms because he was a puker for so long and that’s just not fair for other people.) You can tell within five minutes (and one slice of cake) that she’s not doing this for the money.

Grand Old Duke of York, marching in…

Through this group, I’ve increased my song repertoire by approximately 7,000 times. The Twinkies have had a safe place to run around, play with other kids, eat other kids’ snacks, play with other parents, dance and clap their hands enthusiastically. Baby B learned her first “word” through Hush-a-Bye; I just listened to her repeating it over and over again as she fell asleep into her nap. Sure, I didn’t think that the laugh of a wicked witch would be her first repeated and clear sound on demand, but I’m sure she’ll get around to “mooo” soon enough.

M’s newest crush in a kisses-for-smiles trade agreement.

I have had a guaranteed supportive environment every week where I could complain about sleeplessness, ask about teething, play with other adorable and hilarious children, or just help a very long day pass a little bit more quickly, with a little bit more fun. It has absolutely a form of therapy for me.

A offers a sip of her drink to J; J steals drink. Key life lessons.

It dawned on me today that this is a time in my life I’ll never get back; singing children’s songs in a circle with other enthusiastic women and men, clapping my hands and stomping my feet (fine, some of you can call my bluff on that, especially anyone who’s been to Fat Tuesday’s with me recently).  We’ve done two sessions, but won’t be able to do another due to twin logistics in a parking-challenged Glebe winter. That said, I have no doubt that my children will hear those songs for many years to come.

I may never see most of these women again (although at least one will join my Book Club), and the Twinkies will have no clear memory of it, but I will always cherish the time I spent singing children’s songs in a church basement with them.

Thank you so much, Alice.

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6 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Lori! I didn’t know you were a Hushabye fan too. I agree wholeheartedly. I’m so in awe of Alice’s programs, that I’ve been saying for a while now… that woman deserves an award. Seriously. An award. I’m looking into it if you have any input… 🙂

Comment by Hilary

We should get on it. I’ll tweet the Mayor and ask!

Comment by freshfish

100% agree – I *still* sing these songs almost everyday. Alice is a special lady and I really enjoyed that community (and the cake!). 🙂

Comment by Jennifer

Yay! So I’m not delusional to think that I’ll keep singing them!

Comment by freshfish

This is so adorable. My British Nana used to sing weird songs and play weird games. You know “Here is the church… steeple… doors… people” thing? Well she had an even better one about Mama’s looking glass, table, knives and forks, and baby’s cradle.

Oh, and she once called me an Ippity Oy.

Comment by Marianna Annadanna

And look how brilliant you are!! This is very encouraging!

Comment by freshfish




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