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The other day I was taking the kids to their after school swimming class and having allowed myself plenty of time, I hit some pre rush hour traffic which soon made us late again.
Now, I hate being late and even though I knew there was nothing I could do to beat the road gods, I could feel my stress levels going from 0 to 60 in two seconds.
I was that close to getting out of the car a la that bloke out of REM in the Everybody Hurts video when something quite miraculous happened.
I had been playing a CD of tunes which I had made for my little boy, who by now had dozed off. Up till now there had been Nellie the Elephant and the theme to the 70s Rupert TV show, both classics in their own right but hardly calming.
Then came the next song: Puff the Magic Dragon. Not the slightly smug version by Peter, Paul and Mary, but the rawer, more heartfelt original by Clinton Ford. It was beautiful.
My daughter was entranced. It finished and she said: ‘’Can I have that one again?’’
So we had it again. And again. By now the traffic had eased and we were on the move but the road gods were still against me. Some idiot cut me up at a mini roundabout and we both had to brake sharply. But here’s the thing. I didn’t rant or rage. I didn’t swear (come on, we all swear in the car sometimes even when the kids are in the back). I just smiled resignedly at the errant driver as he pulled away, embarrassed.
Nor did I curse or grump when a trailer slowed me up or when I missed the lights.
And it was all thanks to Clinton and Puff and the dragon.
What’s more my daughter, who had been whining and moaning at her brother outside school, was now just quietly listening to the music and even asking questions about some of the lyrics – ok it was about whether the little boy in the song dies but I was able to explain he just grows older and it was the dragon he’d imagined who dies. Hmm not sure if that’s any better actually.
Anyway we were ten minutes late for swimming, but it didn’t matter. And it gave me an idea for all parents to banish the stress of the crucial part of the day.
Make your own school run CD for the car. Fill it with calming songs that the kids like and you like. It will get your day off to a much better start or whenever you’re in a hurry to get somewhere.
Save the likes of Nellie the Elephant and Don’t Stop Me Now and Amarillo for another time.
But definitely make sure you seek out Puff.