I hate Raffi. Some would argue that hate is too strong a word, however, they’re also not the ones accompanying an 18 month old to toddler activities. Raffi as background noise is irritating, Raffi as the Main Event is downright cruel.
I was recently chatting with a mother at kindergym when Mr. Sun came blaring on, she said it reminded her of when her oldest, now 15, was younger. Her other children, 10 and 3, also listen/listened to Raffi. After 15 years Raffi was wearing thin. When I mentioned I’d grown up listening to Raffi as well, she was sort of taken aback as she mentally calculated my possible age.
Raffi songs were popular in the 80s when I was growing up, in the 90s and 00s when I was babysitting and now, in the whatever they’re calling 2010+ years when I have an 18 month old of my own. After 30+ years it is time for Raffi to be retired from the tape decks and CD players of the world and to be banished to thrift stores and library book sales.
I’d like to say that since the late 1970s when Raffi first burst out on the scene there’ve been a slew of fun artists recording toddler songs… not so much, Sesame Street and Barney come close, but they’re “too commercialized.” Disney and Nickelodeon have also released CDs (and launched artists mostly aimed at tweens). Grown-up bands like Bare Naked Ladies and They Might Be Giants have made kids CDs but none seem to have penetrated the West County Toddler Activities quite the same way Raffi has.
Nearly every activity we go to has some variation of Mr. Sun playing at some point, complete with dance moves. The More We get Together is another very popular one and the more I hear that song the less I want to be there.
I’m fairly sure O doesn’t enjoy Raffi much either, that or he dislikes Toddler Time at the local library, maybe its both. He doesn’t seem to mind Raffi as much when it is just noise in the background at kindergym when he can run around and play with the other toddlers. I suspect it has something to do with being confined to my lap, suffering through the indignity of how the ladies and gentlemen ride, being read odd poems and being somewhat forced into doing the Mr. Sun gestures.
Well meaning people with grown children, or none at all, have not been super-saturated with the insidiously catchy tunes – Raffi came out too late in the 70s for them to have been deeply exposed. These well meaning people think they are “just wonderful” to share with the toddlers of today; meanwhile, many of the mothers of today (who grew up listening to him) are trying to find ways to get their ipods to hook up with archaic community center sound systems so we don’t have to Get Together anymore than necessary. Regardless, Raffi has staying power, if only because he’s still floating around out on tapes and many of the places around here still have tape decks.