So my little brother brought up a funny family memory last week. It made him laugh out loud. He remembered playing a game with the sibs which consisted of many or all of the seven kids lying on my parent’s bed, heads on the pillows, in preparation for a round of “King of the Bed.”
But before the game could start, we would all begin a chant while kicking our legs up and down to get ourselves psyched up for the impending rumble. We would chant “De-feet! De-feet! De-feet!” Yes, this was a method to get the adrenaline running, but it was also an amusing pun in reference to the kick line of flying feet.
I then realized how chanting often accompanied certain family activities. Here are some of the all-star chants:
“A-roma! A-roma! A-roma!”
This chant occurred one day while Amy Lynn was downstairs “playing” school. Chip, Suzie Petunia , and I were the students. Emily, a toddler, came down into the basement with a very ripe diaper. Amy Lynn pinched her nose and began running around to avoid the stinky Emily and chanting “Aroma!” This quickly caught on, and soon we were running and hiding in a corners chanting “Aroma!” while Emily toddled over trying to catchus. As soon as she got close we would run to the opposite corner of the basement and hide. Emily thought this was great fun. So this game stuck, and to this day, when one of the nieces or nephews has a stinky diaper…someone will inevitably start chanting “Aroma!” until the problem is remedied.
“Terr-i-torry! Terr-i-tory! Terr-i-torry!”
The last stage of packing a station wagon to transport 7 kids and 2 adults across the western plains involves actually packing the kids. We sat/lay on luggage cocooned in blankets and pillows to soften the bumps of enough underwear and clothes to last 7 kids for 2 weeks. We immediately set up blankets and pillows between our bodies to avoid “He’s touching me!” moments. Mom and Dad would patiently wait out this epic land grab while we chanted “Territory!” until we were all satisfied with our personal space and we could get a move on. This would probably happen at least once a day as we left motels to continue on our way westward. Occasionally, the chanting would start up during the drive when someone’s territory had been invaded.
“Di-vorce court! Di-vorce court! Di-vorce court!”
This was a really obnoxious chant. My parents NEVER argued in front of us, and rarely uttered a tense phrase. So it made it all the more irritating that we kids would chant “Divorce court!” at the slightest hint of impatience or irritation. We thought we were hilarious.
And the chanting tradition continues to this day. I have noticed that we Aunts and mothers have chanted “Moo Baa La-la-la!” to numerous babies and toddlers. I have “caught” my nephew Jacob chanting songs and made up “raps” that go on for minutes (he’s 4!).
Todd and I have even caught ourselves chanting. We spontaneously chant or recite Beck’s “Loser” lyrics (our family anthem), but the strangest one of all is “Julianna Margulies.” All it takes is seeing her for one second on an “ER” re-run or hearing her name, and it’s inevitable. It will tickle our minds until it has to come out. We chant “Julianna Margulies!” a few times and then it’s purged and we can move on. But I feel that Todd and I are closer for it. Thank you, Julianna Margulies… (Julianna Margulies… Julianna Margulies… Julianna Margulies… Julianna Margulies… Julianna Margulies… Julianna Margulies… Julianna Margulies… OK I’m done…)