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Those of you who are parents of preschoolers may be familiar with Mickey Monkey, Ellie Elephant, Larry Lion and the other alphabet friends of the ABeka Animal Alphabet Song. It’s a favorite in our house.
“Alexander Alligator, Alexander Alligator, A says a—a—a—a.”
Of course, times being what they are, it doesn’t take long for pop culture to find its way into even the purest of hearts. So, it was only mildly surprising to hear my 3-year-old daughter singing her animal alphabet song one day, and instead of Betsy Bee’s refrain of “baby, bell, balloon,” her b—b—b became “Like baby, baby, baby, ohhhhh.”
That’s right, Justin Bieber – the boy whose famous hair, playful smile and baby-soft cheeks send my 5-year-old niece’s knees a-tremblin’, whose life story has been released in theaters and probably will sell more tickets than “Titanic,” whose “never say never” has become the mantra for the pre-teen crowd – has infiltrated the ABCs.
I don’t know how I feel about this.
Make no mistake; it’s actually kind of cute watching my daughter sing it. It happens so fluidly, as if the writers of the ABeka song actually intended for “baby, baby, baby, ohhhhh” to at some point become inserted into alphabet curriculum.
And why not?
A common theme I’m finding in my education coursework in grad school is the need to make what you’re teaching relatable to the students’ lives. Give it to them in their terms. Make it relevant. What’s more relevant to pre-adolescence these days than Justin Bieber?
The bigger question, of course, is why is it relevant to my 3-year-old?
If I take a moment, I’m sure reason will tell me it’s not really relevant to her. She’s more attracted to the alliterative B sound than the message of the song or the cute boy singing it. In her mind, “baby, baby, baby, ohhhh” is probably just the offspring of Mommy O and Daddy O, a cute, cuddly little o, who giggles and slobbers, much like my daughter’s baby brother.
Talk about relevance.
Also relevant is the fact that my daughter looks up to her big cousin. And anything that clever and stylish little 5-year-old is singing, whether it’s now or 10 years from now, most likely will become the coolest thing ever to my daughter and therefore worth committing to memory and singing often. I know this because I had a very cool big sister, and any song she knew by heart, I did too.
As far as “Baby,” which, I believe, is the actual title of the song, it has a good beat. The kid seems to be something of a positive influence – at least for now. Harmless, right?
But, what about poor Betsy Bee? After a prolific career of teaching preschoolers their ABCs, is her limelight lost forever, her relevance outshined by pop culture and a flicker of stardom?
No. It can’t be. There’s got to be a better way.
Maybe we can collaborate.
Do I hear duet?