I’m brainwashing my daughter - and it’s the best thing ever!

Kinderling News & Features

When I was young my family moved suburbs, but for a while I continued at my old school. During those car trips to and from school my mother started to brainwash me.

She had a series of cassette tapes. There was Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables and possibly Starlight Express. When I was old enough, I learnt Memories from Cats on the piano, and she would often say how much she loved hearing me play it.

Before I had been to my first live performance, I knew all the words to all the songs.

Perhaps it was part Stockholm Syndrome, part brainwashing, but the end result was the same.

My mum had planted the seeds of a lifelong love of musicals.

Musicals are a bit like coriander. You either love them or you hate them.

You could say the same about the music of Frank Zappa. Zappa, often referred to as the musician’s musician, is my husband’s favourite artist. I can’t stand his music, and so Daniel (said hubby) decided to employ similar techniques to my mum when it came to our kids.

He has played them Zappa’s music since birth. Like my mother’s repeated soundtracks on our school trips, this has had the desired effect, as my children now request specific Zappa songs like Goblin Girl and Yellow Snow (which would not past the Kinderling appropriate lyric test).

I call that brainwashing.

He is chuffed that our children now love the mustachioed musician.

But now it’s my turn.

There is nothing quite like passing on a passion to your child

While Daniel started his strategic manoeuvres early in our family life, I have had to wait.

My fondest memories of childhood revolve around books (particularly C.S Lewis and the Chronicles of Narnia) and musicals. Neither work well with toddlers or infants.

Now that our eldest is heading in to first grade, I’ve been able to introduce her to these things. It’s even more fun than I thought it would be.

When your kids love what you love, there’s something that’s easy and fun for you to enjoy together. There aren’t that many parents I know who have a passion for The Wiggles or playing Peek-a-boo for hours on end.

We all have our own definition of magic

My husband and I have very different ideas of what made our childhoods great.

His was the passion of sport and competition. Mine was reading and musicals. He could talk to you endlessly about the joys of sport and the camaraderie of working as a team. It has definitely formed who he is as an adult.

My fondest childhood memories involve books, and the way they opened up my imagination. Musicals, with their lights, costumes, soundtrack and dancing all combined into a breath-taking kind of magic for me.

As parents we try not to pass on the faults from our childhoods

It’s difficult to divorce yourself from your upbringing. We all want to do our best as parents, and given we were all parented by humans, chances are our own experiences were never perfect.

So as we bring up our own children we try not to repeat things that we didn’t like in our own childhoods. It can be hard work, which makes passing on the experiences we loved as children such a delight.

Recently I took Darcy to see The Wizard of Oz, one of her favourite musicals (that she had only ever seen on TV).

When Dorothy started singing Over the Rainbow on stage, I was suddenly reminded of my mum.

As an adult I have been to musicals with my mum. During a performance of Les Miserables I heard someone singing along nearby. I turned to see who was making all the racket. It was my mum, lost in the moment.

As we watched The Wizard of Oz, there was a little voice next to me, singing along just as her Nanna had done before.

It seems my first attempt at bringing Darcy over to a love of musicals has been successful.

If this is brainwashing, it’s the best kind of brainwashing. And I can’t wait to start with her brother too.