There are a number of things you can do to make a child cry. Steal their toys, perhaps. Give them a wallop around the head. Leave them in the snow.
But, if I ever want to make my eldest son (Isaac, 4) cry, all I need to do is sing. (I should hastily add that I don’t ever want to make him cry, it’s just sometimes needs must.)
‘But it must be your awful, tone-deaf singing voice!’ I hear you cry, grasping the germ of a joke in your brain and thinking you’re completely original for saying it. Well no, actually, it’s nothing to do with my singing voice, which in reality sounds angelic, like the voices of Susan Boyle, Ronan Keating and Chipmunk have throoned on a plush fur carpet in front of a roaring log fire.
It’s lullabies and sad songs he doesn’t like. He sobs at ‘Rock a Bye Baby’. He wails at ‘Little Man You’re Crying’. He even cries at the ‘Goodnight Veggies’ song from CBeebies’ Mr Bloom’s Nursery, which, after the rowdy trumpets a few seconds before, means he switches from euphoria to crippling sadness in the space of a moment.
Why he does it is beyond me. It’s a little bit girly to be honest. But now and again I find it useful, like I have some kind of superpower: not quite as impressive as flying or invisibility, but useful nonetheless. He’s getting a bit loud and screamy? I sing something, softly softly, until he twigs, starts crying, and eventually calms down. Wait a minute, what’s he doing? Reaching for the remote when the footy’s on?
Goodnight veggies…sleep tight veggies…
Wails, cries, job done. I may have a quivering wreck at my feet, but at least I can see United score.