When I was nine years old, I had a teacher who loved singing, so she taught us lots of songs. One of them was an Irish lullaby. I absolutely loved it, both the tune and the words, and it stayed with me long after I left school.
One day, when I was at University and sharing a house, my older sister asked me to baby-sit my three-month-old niece. I knew absolutely nothing about babies and I have to admit that I wasn’t looking forward to it. So when she turned up with a screaming, red-faced, writhing mess, I was quite ready to renege on the promise. But my poor sister looked so stressed out, I couldn’t. Apparently the little one had been screaming solidly for the past three hours, even in the car right across the city. She’d been fed, she was dry, she didn’t have a temperature. My sister was at her wits end. She needed a break. I smiled and promised her I could cope, though I really didn’t know if I could.
What to do with this screaming mess? Well, what can you do, but try to sooth them with a lullaby? The only problem was that the only lullaby I knew was the Irish one I’d learned at school. So I sang her that. The screaming grew less high-pitched. I sang it again. The screaming subsided into little sobs. I sang it again and she stopped crying altogether and stared at me. By the time I’d sung it ten times, she was fast asleep.
Now it could be that I was calmer than her Mum had been, and that helped her to settle down. (I’ve had screaming babies, I know how uptight they make you when it goes on and on and on). It could be that after listening to my voice, she went to sleep in self-defence. But I like to think of it as my magical lullaby. I know quite a few lullabies, now that I’ve had three kids of my own, but this is the one that always seemed to work.
I'm not normally a great fan of Celtic Woman, but I like this version of 'The Gartan Mother's Lullaby' (could it be the celtic harp accompaniment that I like?) Try not to fall asleep while you listen!