It has become a weekly pandemic pacification in our house: Every Friday night, my 30-something son, his 20-something brother and their Joni/Aretha wanna-be mother shut the living room windows so as not to disturb the neighbors.
Some families do crafts and take bike rides. We bring out the amp and microphone I got for Christmas one year.
And for a few hours, we croon our multiple cares away, them with their signature Hozier and Vampire Weekend, me with my Whitney Houston and Carly Simon, all of us calling up family standards, Don McLean's "American Pie," Arlo Guthrie's "The City of New Orleans," anything Beatles, Avett Brothers, Stevie Wonder or Simon and Garfunkel.
Raucous singalongs and air guitar are not unheard of. Our "Bohemian Rhapsody" shakes the mice out of the rafters.
We are a family who sings. We have gathered tunes to thread the years, from "West Side Story" and "Sound of Music," to Motown, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, disco, reggae, Billy Joel, Elton John and the ballads of Jimmy Buffett. These were the songs we'd crank up and belt out on long family road trips, which the kids started adding to as they got older, Indie bands, Mumford & Sons, rap, hip-hop.
As with the pandemic, there are lessons to be learned when doing karaoke with your children:
◼️ Resist telling about every boyfriend every song reminds you of.
◼️ Don't feel intimidated because they had years of middle-school, high-school and university-choir training and you didn't.
◼️ Try not to sob (see boyfriends above).
◼️ Don't cringe when they reveal intimate thoughts you didn't know.
'This song reminds me of my first girlfriend in eighth grade," my eldest says, as he begins to sing "I'd do anything just to hold you in my arms" by Simple Plan.
Get a few things figured out, and what can emerge is ecstasy, not the drug, but the feeling that means you're happy.