The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round and Round…

My two-year-old daughter is obsessed with ‘The Wheels on the Bus’. I don’t use the word ‘obsessed’ lightly. She wakes up in the morning singing the song, and puts herself to sleep at night singing it again. Even as I write this, it’s playing on continuous loop on the iPod dock so she’ll let me use my laptop and not demand that I play ‘wheeshondabash’ for her on Youtube instead.

Youtube, of course, is the ultimate enabler for a song-obsessed toddler. There are approximately 5000 versions (a conservative estimate) of this song on there, and my daughter listens to them all. Her favourite way to do that is on her grandma’s iPad, and she’ll hop-skip-jump from one version to the next until the iPad is taken away (accompanied by heartbreaking sobs and huge tears, naturally). She expertly navigates the endless list of videos, choosing, playing, pausing, repeating. She listens to a German version, a Korean version and a Spanish or Portuguese version, the Barney version and the Mother Goose Club version, and a version which randomly has vocals by Roger Daltrey of The Who (I can’t decide if that’s super cool or the ultimate sell out). Atrocious singing, miserable animation, ridiculous lyrics (“the gas on the bus goes glug glug glug”… I mean, seriously?) – none of that deters her, though it can drive the adults in the room to want to smash something, usually the laptop/iPad/iPod.

But technology isn’t a necessity. Sometimes all that’s needed is her battered little “Wheels on the bus” board book, which she carries with her as she goes round and round (no pun intended) the house singing. As a Tamil saying goes, if that book had a mouth, it would cry. It’s usually dragged around by one page, the rest dangling forlornly, the binding giving little by little every day. At other times, mom’s (dad’s, thatha’s, or paati’s) vocal chords are called into service, and we’re ordered to sing wheeshondabash for her (our reward is seeing her smile beatifically as she follows along doing all the requisite actions).

There was a time when she would daintily sing ‘Twinkle twinkle little star’ and ‘Row row row your boat’ and ‘Baa baa black sheep’ upon request when we went visiting or when people dropped in. Now any such request is firmly rebuffed with a “No! Wheeshondabash!” and she’ll proceed to give a neverending rendition with all the stanzas from various versions cobbled together. So it isn’t just wipers going swish swish and horns going beep beep, but also, in no particular order:

–          Doors going open and shut

–          Lights going on and off

–          Money going ding, ding, ding

–          People going up and down / bumpity bumpity bump / ha-ha-ha

–          Babies going wah-wah-wah

–          Mummies going shush-shush-shush

–          Mummies going I-love-you

–          Monkeys going ooh-ooh-aah-aah

–          Drivers going move-on-back

–          And of course, gas going glug-glug-glug

When you consider how much repetition there already is in this dratted song, this is a long, long list. The visitors usually start out listening with wide ‘how-sweet’ smiles, and then as we progress along the list, the smiles start getting a bit fixed, and you can almost hear them thinking, ‘Ok, when is this going to finish so we can actually have a conversation again?’ (especially when she takes a deep breath and starts again from the top). Meanwhile, I keep trying other suggestions, including the equally addictive ‘I love you’ from Barney, but it’s all met with the firm, “No! Wheeshondabash!”. And really, there’s no answer to that.

But recently she’s taken it to a whole new level. Those of you who’ve read this post know that she’s already like ‘this’ with the umachis in the house. Now she’s taken to singing wheeshondabash for them, while hanging out before the pooja area. During the recent spate of festivals, her grandma and I tried singing bhajans, but found ourselves drowned out by the Bus Bhajanai. Any attempts to teach her more…er… appropriate slokhas and songs have utterly failed. When we took her to the temple the other day for Ganesh Chathurthi, she treated the amused audience there too to a loud and clear rendition. What Pilliyar thought of wheeshandabash we don’t know; but at least she chose a day when he was well appeased with kozhukottais.



Filed under Family, Humour, Madras, Motherhood

9 responses to “The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round and Round…

  1. Pallavi

    Good one! You have a great sense of humour. I remember my older son going through the exact same phase when he was 2 y old. He would continuusly chant “bus! again….”. A cousin who was visiting us at that time, still recollects the pain of watching that song on repeat on youtube.

    • Thanks Pallavi! 🙂 I wonder what it is about this song that inspires such devotion in toddlers! Hahaha and it’s always the most annoying version that they want to play over and over again.

  2. CD

    Oh divya, just cant wait to listen to Disha’s rendition of the song. I can listen to it a hundred times!! What if I sing along? haha!

    • Just drop in anytime, a concert is usually in progress 😉 I think when u saw her last, she was still willing to sing other songs. Now it’s only wheeshondabash. Hahaha it depends on the mood, sometimes she likes others to sing, sometimes she’ll protest and say, ‘Dishi wheeshondabash!’

  3. Nalini Kavoori

    Divya, your article was such an interesting one. I enjoyed evry bit of it because I just got back from a trip to Saettle WA where my little bephew, same age (2 yrs old) is doing just the same, but he’s hooked on to Where is Thumkin, where is Thumbkin,here I am in varied versions and I had to sing for him……..guess what ???????? every rendition was echoed with aloud BAaaavoooooooo (Bravo) and a clap for me. You’re mom will have to forget Asha and Lata’s melodies and switch to kiddies songs. Enjoy this is invaluable. Why don’t you post her videos. Would love to hear her sing too.

    • Hahaha how cute aunty! I love that your nephew says bravo! What a little gentleman 🙂 Yes, my mom’s now well versed in kiddie songs, and of course, particularly wheeshondabus… sometimes we do a family chorus of the song for disha!:) I’ll send you a video… I’m sure there are quite a few wheeshondabus recordings 😉

      • Nalini Kavoori

        Enjoy her childhood before you realize how and where all those ‘appy hours’ and ‘never ending’ smile times went………………..its memorable !!!!!!!!!! We still have your ‘Hey little hen’ cassette some where in Hyd…….will retrieve it when I get home in the future…………

  4. Anjali

    Divya enjoyed reading your article so much…. I can totally understand…. Eshu went thru a similar phase….and now I have shivana with the teapot song!!! Enjoy!!!

    • Thanks Anjali! Hahaha ‘I’m a little teapot’ is getting quite popular here too… and it’s really funny when she sings ‘I’m a little teapot short and stout’ ‘cos she’s anything but short or stout! 🙂 I can’t believe we’ve still not met up with the kids… I have faith! I’ll come and see you before the end of this year!

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