Music to Tame the Savage Beast
By Jen Kehl on September 04, 2013
Last night the little man was in prime form.
It's funny when you can connect behavior to things you have read - it a reminds me of how normal life really is. Tonight, he was Max from Where the Wild Things Are; just when Max yelled at his mom "I'll eat you up!". That was our evening.
There was nothing I could do to calm him. I spoke in my sweetest, calmest, nicest not screeching harpy voice. You know the one I use to convey how much I love him and how I would so like him to try to be a little more gentle? The one that doesn't reveal at all how I really feel? I tried not to threaten - well not too much. Brushing his teeth was on the menu and this was not happening without some pressure.
Finally, FINALLY, I turned to something I know very well. I turned to music. I have heard experts say, "don't rely on music, playing music all the time is not good for a child's mind." Seriously?
How about this, I'm an expert. I am a product of being raised with music. I come from a multi-generational family of musicians. Growing up there was always music, from opera to pop musicals, from classical to rock. You name it, someone played it. Music became an intrinsic part of me. Something, that through my life would be a constant grounding force. A place of peace, a way to forget the world and find my happiness.
Naturally, to calm my mischievous little man, I turned to music. (OK not naturally, I tried other stuff that didn't work because I was too much of dumbhead to think of music first). This is not a post about Pandora, I just want to say - I am so in love with Pandora. With very little searching for just the right type of music - I found Classical Music To Study By. The results were amazing. Not immediate mind you, it was a gradual change, gradual, but perceptible. It was the impetus to wind down.
The beauty of my method is you need no knowledge of classical music to successfully attempt this with your own "Wild Child". When we finally made it to bed for a story, my boy asked if we could turn the music up just a bit so he could hear it better. And as he elbowed me, 3 or 4 times trying to get comfortable, he was quick to apologize. He was solicitous and caring, he was sweet, and best of all.....he was mellow. Music had tamed my savage beast, and when it was time for lights out - close our eyes, he said, "Mommy, can you please keep the music on?" "Of course I will honey." What do those experts know anyway?
As an aside: Here's a little tidbit. I love Maurice Sendak, because he could not be put into a box. He did not consider himself a children's author, he considered himself an author. He said other people decided his books were for children. This quote resonates with me so much I wanted to share it with all of you:
“Certainly we want to protect our children from new and painful experiences that are beyond their emotional comprehension and that intensify anxiety; and to a point we can prevent premature exposure to such experiences. That is obvious. But what is just as obvious — and what is too often overlooked — is the fact that from their earliest years children live on familiar terms with disrupting emotions, fear and anxiety are an intrinsic part of their everyday lives, they continually cope with frustrations as best they can. And it is through fantasy that children achieve catharsis. It is the best means they have for taming Wild Things.” ― Maurice Sendak