Wednesday, 16 January 2013


Isn't 'Ohrwurm' a great word?  It's German, and when I first learnt it, the Germans seemed to be the only people to have such a useful term for 'getting a tune stuck in your head'.  Recently, though, I've noticed the word 'earworm ' on Twitter and the like, so evidently we've adapted it.

Ohrwurm, I've discovered, is a real hazard of parenting.  Right now, Jeremy is sitting beside me playing with a toy which emits a highly irritating tinkly tune that gets stuck in the mind instantly.  Just when I've forgotten it - after days sometimes - one of the children finds the toy again.  There's another one in the bath, and several more on the toddler-friendly app that Abigail enjoys using on my phone.

And then there's television.  That's even worse, because if you're humming a theme tune, you're advertising the fact that you watch that particular programme to every other poor, blighted parent in the supermarket - and probably sending them home with the same ohrwurm!  And it's always the worst tunes, from the worst programmes, that are hummable.  Iggle Piggle's song from In The Night Garden is instantly catching, even though we only ever watch it by accident.  Timmy Time is another one, right down to the exact tone of the irritating 'baaah's.  Abigail seems to suffer from Ohrwurm too - she's already showing herself to be very musical, and quick to pick up tunes accurately, which is lovely -  but if there's anything more irritating than inadvertently humming "Once I caught a fish alive" in public, it's having a toddler telling you to hum it on repeat: "Mummy? Cos my bit my finger on it?  Mummy?  Sing that song!"

This is anther reason why Cbeebies' Show Me Show Me is currently in my good books. (Yes, Abigail is obsessed with Momo's Rainbow Song, but I can just about live with that one).  Many of the songs they use repeatedly are designed to be adaptable, so that each time they use them, the words are different and suited the theme of the day's show; and it's actually rather easy to do.  At least when I have one of those stuck in my head, I can be a bit creative with it.  Now when I'm cleaning the kitchen, I'm singing,

"Can you do it?  Sweep the floor,
Can you do it? Mop the floor,
Can you do it? Scrub the floor,
Abigail can do it, too!"

Or when we're hunting for one of TheRev's dog collars:

"Guess where it's gone?  Daddy's collar,
Where has it gone?  Daddy's collar!
It's long and white
And he needs it in his shirt,
Guess if you can!"

Cooking takes on a somewhat sinister note:

"Guess what I'm making? It's boiling!
Guess what I'm cooking? In my pan!
They're round and brown
and they have little eyes,
Guess if you can!"

Of course, to an outside observer I still look like a complete lunatic, but that hasn't changed much since before I had children.  At least there's enough variation and mental exercise that my brain doesn't atrophy completely.  So Show Me Show Me is regular viewing; and if I end up with a persistent Ohrwurm of Momo's rainbow song in the supermarket?  Well, that's where being a ventriloquist can come in very handy...

1 comment:

Helen Murray said...

Ha! Yes, I am completely with you on this subject. Just you wait until they're singing the headlice song from Dr Ranj's 'Be happy, be healthy'...
When my girls were tiny it was everything Barney. 'I love you, you love meeee...' Could be worse, I suppose, but it was an earworm that lasted about three years.
Thankyou for a lovely smiley piece.