Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Dear Laurie Berkner


Dear Laurie Berkner,

We had the privilege to see hear you in concert at Ravinia this past weekend, and was it a sweet trip down memory lane for me!

Laurie Berkner was a name I held precious to my heart when Dear Daughter was a toddler.  As a new mommy who learned about All-Things-Toddlers, I came across the exquisite Laurie Berkner Band and completely fell in love with this children's music singer-songwriter and her band mates.

Let's rewind about seven years.  I met my BFF shortly after both our DDs turned two-years-old.  We then enrolled the girls in an early childhood recreational program designed to bring the outdoors into an indoor open space (great for our brutal winters).  Under age-appropriate instruction, parents and tots used this large, open space to shake out our wiggles and dance to children's music.  Was I ever glad when I found out that this educational facility used Laurie Berkner's songs in its curriculum!

In my recollection, that was a very memorable time in my life.  I had finally kicked Infertility in the rear and had myself a precious little girl, became a mommy, and embarked on my brand new journey of Raising a Child.  Perhaps a little more overzealous because she was a Miracle Baby, or perhaps it was just in my personality to parent her this way--DD became the focus and priority of my life.  Since I was granted this Gift, I wasn't going to screw it up.  I was going to do my darnedest to provide what it took to bring up a happy, loving child.  Our new mommy-daughter life was filled with exclusive time together.

Every week, DD and I would run around the open space in the recreational program singing 'I'm Gonna Catch You' and taking turns chasing and pretending to catch one another.  These chases always included smiles and laughter.  I'm gonna catch you, you better run; I'm gonna catch you, here I come!  How can anyone not smile to those words when one is chasing or being chased for fun?

After plenty of running, we'd march to the tune of 'We Are the Dinosaurs' and stomp to the lyrics of 'Boots'.  We'd buzz-buzz to the song, 'Bumblebee', and boogie to the music of 'I Really Love to Dance'.  We'd play with balls and hoops and inclines and ramps and bubbles until it was time to clean up to the song, 'Clean It Up'.  I may have looked forward to these weekly classes a tiny bit more than DD.  It was that exciting.

If you've had the pleasure of hearing some of Laurie's songs, or are a Laurie Berkner Band fan yourself, then you'd know.  You'd know her friendly, happy voice singing upbeat, rhythmic songs.  You'd be familiar with the content of her songs--so relevant for little people, so appropriate for their inquiring minds, so full of wonder, joy, and charm.  You'd have heard her strum a few chords on her guitar and know exactly what song it will be.  You'd have already known the delight her songs bring to you and your children.

A few years later, Dear Son came along.  We had moved to the suburbs, and could no longer enroll him in the same class.  I tried to pass on our love for Laurie Berkner's songs to him, but to no avail.  He'd bop to 'We Are the Dinosaurs' every now and then, but that was about all the excitement he let on.  To each his own, I suppose.  By age two, DS was decidedly into techno pop music (as in Black Eyed Peas), and, later, pop-rock-dance music (as in Katy Perry).  Yeah--don't ask: it's his loss.  (Incidentally, the exact same thing happened to BFF's second-born.  Go figure.)

So when BFF and I found out that Laurie Berkner was having a concert here, we made a date!  The concert was at Ravinia, an outdoor concert venue where families and friends picnic on the lawn and listen to the music (or, purchase tickets for the stage seating area to watch the concert).  We picnicked and listened, had yummy food and bopped to the music, enjoyed the great outdoors and got a little choked up.  Well, that last one was just yours truly.

As soon as I heard Laurie's voice, I felt like I was three-years-old.  Despite not being able to see her, my eyes lit up, I breathed a little bit faster, and I felt my body bouncing to the beat of her songs.  Soon, I was singing with her--songs that I hadn't heard for many years--just like I did when DD was a tot.  DD would announce to me that she remembers many songs, and DS would chime in, too, on a few of which he had some recollection.  Best of all, there were smiles and dancing all around.

The park was filled with families with young children--some in strollers, mostly preschoolers.  They all danced and jumped and clapped and followed Laurie's singing directions.  Everyone was having a blast.  I watched these younger children and felt quite humbled.  We've moved beyond that stage already: the crawling, the beginning walking, the potty training.  I looked that their young parents and felt for what they were probably going through.  Maybe.  Not really.

It felt bittersweet.

When I had a chance, I walked up to the stage area to see my beloved children's music singer-songwriter.  She was wearing an adorable poofy dress, a pair of Mary Jane shoes, and outfitted with her signature instrument across her shoulder--the acoustic guitar.  The stage was fabulous, made of a colorful backdrop with images related to her songs.  I even felt a bit starstruck, as I was seeing with my own bare eyes--for the very first time--the singer that I had for so long admired and loved.  Snap, snap, snap, but that up there was the best that I could get from far away.

Laurie performed this song near the end--one of  my very favorites:


The concert breezed by in an hour.  It is the end of an era, as my BFF proclaimed.  We'll still come across her songs, I'm sure, but it will not be under the same circumstances as they were seven years ago.  All those precious moments flashed by, and I felt a tiny lump in my throat. 

So, Dear Laurie Berkner, some things never get old.  Your songs will never get old for me.  They will always take me back to that very special time in my life and remind me of the early years with my DD.  Because your songs fill my DD's baby book, your voice is my lullaby, and your music--my time machine.  Thank you for the magic that you have strummed and sung into our early childhood and parenthood lives!  I can always count on listening to your music and feeling like a little kid again.

Sincerely,
Me

16 comments:

  1. Can you please add a disclaimer at the top to get a tissue ready before reading?! So beautiful and so very true! <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for reading and taking the time to leave such a nice comment, Kristina! Yes, I believe we all <3 The Laurie Berkner Band!

      Delete
  2. Came over here from Laurie Berkner's FB page. I agree, I'm all willy-eyed! I completely relate to your experience. My DS and I did several Mommy & Me classes that greatly incorporated Laurie's music and we were hooked! We have three of her CD's and we have danced and danced around our home to our favorites; and there is always one in the car to accompany us on day trips to parks and museums. Her music had a huge impact on those toddler years. It is bitterweet.

    Fortunately, my seven-year-old DS still likes to put Laurie in once in a while and sing to her music - especially in the car. I think it brings him a sense of comfort and security as he maneuvers through the uncharted waters of first into second grade. As for now, I'm happy with that.

    Thank you for sharing these sweet memories and reminding me why I love her music.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Golightly! I hadn't even realized Laurie put this post on her FB page until I read your comment! It is so wonderful that your DS still loves to listen to her songs; my DD has pretty much moved on to tweeny-bopper music at age nine. But Laurie's songs will always be on my playlist for when I need a dose of Childhood Magic! I appreciate your kind words!

      Delete
  3. Best of all, someday... someday you'll have grandchildren to introduce to Laurie Berkner. I used to enjoy her on Kids Place Live (XM radio), but kid music has never really been my thing. Hers though was fun. I can imagine it was a great concert. Next time, you may have to go with your BFF sans kids, you know.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly. Hers were FUN. And meaningful, with catchy tunes. Yes, next time I may just go with BFF and get seats to sit in front of the stage where I can actually see her and play along! Thanks, Michelle!

      Delete
  4. Beautifully written, as always, Sandra. Though I do not know the band, I understand your sentiments completely. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Imelda, I hope do you look up her band and at least see a few videos to hear the songs. They are so wonderful, and I'm sure your younger boys will like them. Thanks for stopping by to read this post!

      Delete
  5. I remember those songs, and loved them, too! My little one even had a bug party & we danced to Doodlebug. Fun times!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Awww, how cute! A Bug Party! Now I want to find my LB DVD and dance and stomp the night away. Thanks, Asianmommy!

      Delete
  6. I'm not familiar with this artist, but I can relate to the realization that an era of their childhood is coming to a close.

    My kids listen to Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Black Eyed Peas, too. My older son loves the BEP remake of "Time of My Life" (the theme song of Dirty Dancing, one of my favorite movies)...I can't stand it because they ruined a perfectly beautiful song! Generation canyon, I suppose.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Janna, I'm not familiar with that remake, but I know about ruining a perfectly beautiful thing! Remakes sometimes never come close to the original (in songs, movies--any form). At least you and your son like 'the same song'? I like that--'generation canyon'.

      Delete
  7. Music and dancing were such a huge part of my childhood and I passed that along to my own girls when they were young. Now that they are 19 and 20, I can't hear those songs without feeling bittersweet as to what was gained and what is now long gone. but, since my 19 yr old had a baby just last week, I look forward to sharing those songs with my new granddaughter.

    I finally understand why grandparents spoil their grandkids so much. I want to fill every second of my time with her with joy and love and I want to grab on to those moments with both hands and never ever let them go.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And now you get to share all the meaningful pieces of music with your new granddaughter! Congratulations again on her arrival. I can only imagine how it would feel to be a grandparent, whose job is to 'have fun' and leave all the parenting issues to the lucky parents! Grab onto those moments and dance your joys away, Nari! =)

      Delete
  8. I came to your post via the Laurie Berkner Band Facebook page. We saw Laurie in Minneapolis and your writings relate completely to the feelings I had go through me throughout her show. I found myself belting out the songs louder and longer than my own children. I found myself wanting to go up to the front row having to stop myself and remember this show was for the children. :) Thank you for sharing your experience through this post.

    We were able to meet her following the show for a brief moment and I will forever remember her sweet personality, amazing smile and welcoming lap for my 5 year old! :) Thank you so much Laurie Berkner for sharing your musical talents to families near and far to you. You are amazing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for reading this post and leaving me such a nice comment, Jennifer! Listening to and seeing Laurie was such a treat for me. That flood of memories was so overwhelming! How wonderful that you were able to meet Laurie in person! Weren't you a bit star-struck as well? =) I just got the Laurie Berkner Band mobile app, and *I'll* be the one using it and listening to her songs, ha!

      Delete