It started in his nursery. I’d hear him on the monitor singing along to opera on Radio 3. It would happen every few days, though never when I was present. I’d creep in to catch his melodies on camera and he’d stop.
Now every morning we wake to squawks and squeaks. He’s pretty pleased with himself and it’s hard not to share that joy. His little mouth forms a half smile and his eyebrows rise when he hits the big notes.
A singer commented on his lovely voice when we were having lunch. It was hard not to beam.
Still, a few strangers have humphed and tutted when in RB’s singing earshot. I’ve fought any reaction to feel embarrassed or silence RB. He’s learning his voice. It’s human development. And what could I do, muffle him?
Instead I acknowledge what’s happening so they know I’m not turning a deaf ear. ‘Well done’, ‘Oh my goodness, that’s a loud noise’. My favourite is, ‘Good point, I agree’ – the singing can be talking, too. A stranger would never ask a talking adult to be silent, after all.
Besides, my new technique to silence harumphing strangers is to stare into their eyes and smile a really friendly smile. There’s not much you can do once someone smiles a welcoming smile.
I remember being 10 years old and a girl at school telling me, very crossly, that I think I can get away with everything with a smile. On the whole, I think she’s right.