The other day, a colleague was talking about one of his young children and their behavior in the car. It made me remember when Richard and Russell were little, during what I now think of as “the Raffi Years.”
Raffi (whose name is actually Raffi Cavoukian) was a singer of children’s songs whose CDs dominated the playlists when the kids were in the car in the early ’90s. We had multiple Raffi recordings, and they were played on strict rotation.
At first, our discovery of Raffi — no doubt occurring through the “Moms’ grapevine” by which women with children disseminated information about what to do to keep from being driven crazy by those little hellions at home — was a blessing. A Raffi CD actually got Richard and Russell to stop poking each other, fidgeting in the back seat, and repeatedly asking “when are we getting there?” Instead, they listened to the music and would pipe up “put on Raffi!” whenever we got into the car.
And that quickly became a double-edged sword, because as they listened to the music, we did, too. And I’m not saying that Raffi’s music was utterly puerile, but songs about baby whales that are targeted for little kids simply aren’t meant for repeated listening by adults. At first I appreciated Raffi for helping to keep the kids occupied on car trips and introducing them to music, then repeated exposure to his songs started to really irritate me, and finally I would grit my teeth whenever the kids wanted to replay “Baby Beluga” again and think about how pleasant it would be to drive steel spikes into my eardrums.
Of course, one day Richard and Russell decided they’d had enough of Raffi and moved on, and soon enough they were listening to their own music on Walkmans and iPods and other devices. I feel grateful to Raffi for getting us through the squirmy years, but it was wonderful to take his CDs out of the car, forever. And I’ve got no desire to hear him sing, ever again.