The song and its repetitive tune gets stuck on replay in my mental space as soon as I hear it again. Similar to others in its new-age nursery rhyme classification, there are many variations of this melody, and I know each one, thanks to my children’s YouTube Kids viewership. The modulations are substantial in number and falsetto in note and exactly what induces unbridled dancing out of my two-year-old and five-year-old.
Specifically to their dancing, they usually perform the mandatory: they put their hands in the air, all fingers splayed widely, as in poignant tribute to a childhood anthem. The hands then wave side to side in rhythm to the song.
“Mommy finger, mommy finger, where are you? / Here I am, here I am, how do you do?”
I just shuddered.
I try to run far away from the “Family Finger Song.” Consequently, I indulge in random spurts of cardio daily. I also exercise my brain by shuttering my head into an imaginary bubble where I can only hear the air in my ears. It’s a talent worth practicing.
A 2016 Reddit board posting defined the “Family Finger Song” as “a (mostly manufactured) internet meme for kindergartners.” This feels pretty much on point. To explain the lyric’s prominence, the author of the post discussed the probability that the young intended age group controls the song’s overall viral recognizability because children may haphazardly select videos with little intent other than to see something bright and colorful.
The author goes on along this idea. “Finger Family is self-perpetuating: Since it is seen to be ‘popular,’ children channels make more Finger Family videos so that they appear in ‘Related’ areas of popular videos and get more views, ad nausea. This is especially important, since little kids mostly navigate YouTube via auto-play and related videos (as opposed to active searching or channel subscriptions). . .Hordes of very young children (who are given tablets by their busy parents) watch the videos many many times, literally playing the same videos 100+ times in a row, resulting in the large numbers of views.”
The hubs and I are particularly amenable to whatever keeps my children comfortably entertained, within safe boundaries, of course. This is why I don’t immediately enforce a shutdown of the “Finger Family” or like videos when the kids navigate there. Instead, I encourage some physical motion when the song plays. For instance, I ask Jai to stand and walk away from me while she watches the song. Gross motor skills development is always a solid enterprise. The song can become so…loud, especially run over and over in a place of business. Additionally, to improve her hand-eye coordination, she constantly juggles watching that song with eating dinner while, miraculously, standing up beside her table and glancing at what’s on the television in the distance.
She’s a trooper, I suppose.
In most instances, along comes Jrue, the competitor. He will find the exact rendition of “Finger Family” and blast it from his tablet, then laugh when I make an annoyed face. For several minutes, I will be heaved into the abyss of that same song at different lines. Jai, not one to feel beaten, will incessantly press replay of “Finger Family” until the tablet runs out of charge.
100,000 plays of “Finger Family” on any given YouTube children’s channel can be credited to my two children alone.
I can’t win this way. I won’t try.
I look to the days when the sport shifts. When my twinkling “Rise and Shine!” early morning singsong greeting resounds in the air of a too-sleepy adolescent boy and his sister, who wouldn’t go to bed on time the night before. When my “old school” music plays on the radio and I light up the car with a concert while my daughter and her best friend are riding to practice. When Jrue drops by the house to find his parents slow-dancing in the living room because, hey, it’s our house and, in college, he becomes merely a visitor, and he should learn to call first…
These are the moments when I shall triumph and exclaim, “Mommy Finger!” as if crossing a finish line first or winning a game of “Uno.”