My Six-Week-Old Recognized the Song I Sang to Him In Utero
I didn't sing "Three Little Birds" to my son until he was about six weeks old -- probably because I was such a zombie during those first few weeks, it didn't even occur to me to test whether he could recognize it. But one evening, I was sitting with him on the couch. He was quiet and alert, and we'd been gazing into each other's eyes for a few minutes when I started to sing to him. Softly and quietly, I sang the first stanza of "Three Little Birds" to him...and I was amazed by his response.
His eyes, which had been a little glazed over from several minutes of staring at my face, snapped into focus. And the biggest grin spread across his tiny face -- the first smile I'd coaxed from him that I knew for sure was a real smile and not just an accident of facial expression. He started waving his arms around, cooing, and even let out a little giggle.
I was so stunned that I stopped singing for a few seconds and just watched his reaction. When I started up the song again, I couldn't keep from laughing mid-lyric at his enthusiastic response, but he didn't seem to mind. He listened, clearly enjoying himself, until I'd finished, and then he settled back into his quiet state, falling asleep shortly afterward.
It was a beautiful moment, and it still sends shivers down my spine to think about it. I can remember it vividly -- the gentle light in the room, the microfiber of the couch beneath me, the weight of him in my arms, the flash of recognition in his eyes, the surprise and euphoria I felt, the catch in my chest and his delighted laughter.
I still sing to him every day -- usually silly nonsense freestyling about what I'm doing or how cute he looks in his outfit today -- and I'm excited to hear his stories about music when he develops the ability to tell them. I'm not sure what he'll say about "Three Little Birds" then, but for me, it will forever transport me back in time to that tender, joyful experience on my living room couch.
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