I couldn't really tell you the first time it happened. It may have been a month into my daughter's life, it may have been a year. All I know is that one day, it was everywhere. Of course, I'm talking about "Baby Shark."
Whisper those words in any parent group or during any playdate, and you're bound to be met with the faces of parents who get it. Parents who have also experienced this effective rite of parenthood passage, albeit against their will. You won't read about it in any parenting book, but, trust me, getting "Baby Shark" stuck in your head is as commonplace as the first time your child rolls over.
Actually, it's probably a lot more common than that. We've reached the point of saturation that all my daughter has to hear is "do do do do do," and she'll burst into the refrain.
What is it about that song that seems to have hypnotized all of the world's youth? (Because, at last count, the original YouTube video has been viewed 2.1 billion times―and counting. As James Corden recently pointed out in a show tune-worthy spoof of the song, there are only about 7 billion people on the planet. Think about that. Heck, my daughter saw me pull up the YouTube video just to get that number and immediately started chanting, "Play BABY SHARK! PLAY BABY SHARK!" This is some powerful stuff.)
Baby Shark Dance | Sing and Dance! | Animal Songs | PINKFONG Songs for Children www.youtube.com
If you ask me, the choice of a shark as a child's favorite pop star is unlikely at best. Rows of razor-sharp teeth, toothlike scales, an insatiable appetite, dead eyes, and a litany of Hollywood-endorsed stories designed to inspire fear―not exactly your typical childhood hero. And yet...the shark still prevails.
Of course, that adoration only applies to the under-preschool set. As any parent would tell you, Baby Shark has become the soundtrack to most of our nightmares. It strikes at the most innocuous times: when I'm waiting in line at the grocery store. When we're stuck in traffic. Or simply when I'm rushing to accomplish any of the tasks on my to-do list. One second, I'm sitting in silence. The next? I hear it whispering from the back of my mind: do do do do do…
From that point on, the shark attack has begun.
But as much as I might inwardly loathe "Baby Shark," I can't deny that its power can be used for good. I can certainly credit the song with having saved me from a number of budding toddler meltdowns.
There are times when its siren call is the only thing that can save my high energy kid from the brink of a total tantrum. As soon as its dulcet sounds fill the car, even my screaming newborn can't help but be lulled to sleep.
Why does such sleepytime magic come at the price of the ultimate earworm? We may never know. But I suspect it's the same logic that determines that my daughter's favorite shows must come with some of the most obnoxious characters.
And you can't disagree that "Baby Shark" stands for inclusivity. Sure you have your obvious Baby Shark, Mommy Shark, and Daddy Shark, but in our house, you know you're really accepted by my 3-year-old when she makes you a shark too. We've had sister sharks, auntie sharks, grandma sharks, Caleb sharks… You get the idea. A shark for one, and a shark for all!
Plus, studies have even shown that it might actually be boosting my kids language skills! Score another one for the sharks!
I'll probably never love Baby Shark―or even totally understand it―but I like to think the sharks and I have come to an understanding. Even now, I hear my daughter requesting it from Alexa for the thousandth time today, and I see my newborn's eyes light up at the sound of its bouncing melody. And while I know this means I'm in for another generation of sharks, I can't knock the fact that the stuff works. So maybe we can all just learn to swim together in peace.
Do do do do do.