Jamaican Farewell

Jamaican Farewell


I have an old standby song in my repertoire that I have used to sing children out of horrendous snotty tantrums or just to keep them amused at various desperate times.

This was a song I learned in the seventies. One  magical day in grade school, I had a substitute teacher who showed up with a guitar on her back. We sang the day away in our classroom at little Seven Oaks Elementary School.

This was a school run by an English trained principal who put up with no nonsense. She would startle us by testing us on our times tables as we walked down the hall, ” seven times nine!” she would shout at us when she spotted us lurking around corners, trying to blend into the cement brick walls. I lived in fear of making a mistake, or worse having to go to the “special class”- the class she ran herself. It was held in a small room where there were no windows, no means of escaping her drilling of times tables into the empty cartoon- fed minds of some of  my unluckier classmates.

This was the era when every kid walked to and from school. We had an hour for lunch each day. I would walk home the short five minutes,( if I dawdled) to make myself a big heaping plate of pasta with an egg mixed in- we called it Lockshen in our family. Then maybe a bit of afternoon tv and then off to my times tables again.

But the day of the guitar playing teacher is the one day that shines out from all of my other ordinary grade school days. I never knew the name of this song until I googled it today. When I was ten years old, how would I have known how handy it was to know the words? How would I have known how important this day was.   I can’t recall her face, but the song remains. And why Jamaican Farewell in the middle of the prairies? It will forever remain a mystery.

Years later, with a crying baby on my hip and a distraught toddler wrapped around my ankle, instead of screaming- I  opened my mouth and began to sing this song that I was taught twenty years earlier.

Singing in a time of need is a great lesson. A lesson I was taught on substitute teacher day. The day when you think your children are learning nothing.

On another note, if you want to get back at your kids in the car here is a song to sing very boisterously-

I know someone you don’t know-YOGI! YOGI! I know someone you don’t know YOGI YOGI BEAR! YOGI YOGI BEAR! YOGI YOGI BEAR! I know someone you don’t know YOGI YOGI BEAR!

Simple yet effective.



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