Saturday, November 9, 2013

Singing for Family Fun And Torture

We all know that singing has known therapeutic effects. It's GOOD for you. It increases endorphins and lowers cortisol levels--making one feel exhilarated and decreasing stress.   It helps improve depression.  Oxytocin (a brain chemical involved in breast feeding and  milk let-down and uterine contractions) is released during singing and helps you to bond with the people with whom you are singing. (Or want to breast feed them or extrude them from your uterus).  People who have had a stroke affecting their speech can learn to speak again through singing. Singing helps to improve diaphragmatic control and expands the lungs.  (So does shrieking at your kids.)

In the Carlon/Hereña  family however, singing has multiple roles.

1.) Singing for FUN and family dysfunction:

Take Christmas for example. We massacre Christmas songs just for fun.

We often sing the beloved "Jingle  Bells"  mutation-- "Jingle Bells, Santa Smells , Easter's on its Way."

The Radio City Music Hall singers have a beautiful little tune called "Christmas in New York."  It is a lovely song. There are descriptions of how beautiful New York City is at the Christmas season with lovely voices and good cheer.

We Carlon/Hereña's have changed the lyrics to describe our PERSONAL  experiences of New York City at Christmastime:

 "Muggers are beaming, Children are screaming, Tempers are steaming, It's Christmas in New York!  Car horns are blaring, Tempers are flaring,  People aren't caring, It's Christmas in New York!!  It's Christmas in New York!!!"

In the Carlon family, no dysfunctional holiday was complete without the Christmas fight. We would sit for a lovely meal lubricated with alcohol and the interactions between people who really didn't like each other very much anyway.

The Hereña's are so much nicer to eat with. They are the polar opposites of dysfunctional.  They don't have acrimonious meals.  (That really helps digestion! Who knew?) The Carlon's felt obligated to be together because it was Christmas, dammit. The  Hereña's look FORWARD to seeing each other. Weird.

In the Carlon household, holidays were almost always accompanied by a big brouhaha complete with screaming, yelling, cursing, and gnashing of teeth. One year my sister, my aunt, my mother, and I were hiding out in the kitchen washing and drying the dishes (no dishwasher) when my aunt noticed that we hadn't had our Christmas fight.   To the tune of "Oh Christmas Tree"  she raised her voice with glee and started singing:

"Oh Christmas fight, oh Christmas fight, we haven't had our Christmas fight!"

 I don't remember all of the other verses, but needless to say, this became a yearly staple of the Christmas holidays in the Carlon family.

2.  Singing to irritate your spouse

There are many ways to irritate your spouse by singing--WAY too many to go into here-- but one technique is to sing the wrong words on purpose and insist that they are the correct lyrics.

For example: Take the tune "Home on the Range". This is one of my very favorite shower songs. I sound FABULOUS singing this in the shower. My husband however, to torture me, changed the lyrics to:

"the skies are all cloudy all day."

I sweetly pointed out to him that it's:

"the skies are NOT cloudy all day"

but he said he liked it better the other way and sings it that way every chance he gets. (ARGGGHH!!)

3. Singing to embarrass your children (see previous post on "The Mother's Manual".
One of my favorite things is to put Bruce Springsteen on while driving somewhere with the kids and their friends.  "Born to Run" sung at the top of my lungs in the car ALWAYS SOUNDS AWESOME!  It cracks me up when my children apologize for me. Their friends inevitably say that their parents also sing in the car and a discussion ensues about whose parents are the worst singers or the most embarrassing overall.

(As pointed out in the previous blog it is in the Mother's Manual that as a parent one should take every opportunity to embarrass their children in public by doing completely normal things like singing to a song they like or talking to perfect strangers. The worst is when perfect strangers and parents start singing together. Mortification ensues.)

4.)  Songs to gross people out (OR campfire songs):

I am a gross out song aficionado. "Great green gobs of greasy grimy gophers guts" OR
"Did you ever think when a hearse went by that you might be the next to die?" (Did you know that depending on what area of the country you are from, the lyrics are DIFFERENT? Isn't that Cool?)

  I also love tongue twister songs and ballads--long ones. Oh, and SEA SHANTIES!! I LOVE Sea Shanties.  (My kids HATE them now...I wonder why?) But I digress. 

 Singing in front of your daughter's or son's Scout Troop in front of a roaring campfire sure is fun-- and the grown ups LOVE IT.  The kid's usually hang their heads in shame, but my endorphins and oxytocin are way the hell up there so I don't give a damn what they think 'cause I'm having FUN!

In conclusion, I suggest  that you take full advantage of singing for family fun and torture while your kids are young. Kids grow up so fast these days. Pretty soon they'll be OVER  being embarrassed and will be singing in public WITH you at which point it won't be fun anymore---until they have children of their own to embarrass.  Mawwhaaahhaaaa (Evil laugh).

Michele Carlon


  1. Don't forget to add car dancing to really enhance the embarrassment of car singing. What's the own mortality line all about?

  2. I haven't car danced before, but that sure sounds like fun! I'm going to do a Saturday Night Live rendition next time I'm behind the wheel. Maybe I better rethink that, since I might careen off the road

  3. I HIGHLY recommend the reading of this blog for raising one's endorphin levels - particularly when simultaneously listening to an INCREDIBLY boring PDOC update lecture. :)