Some of my fondest memories of my childhood are accentuated by a lively soundtrack. My father was a Beatles fan, my mother played Boney M and Meatloaf from a D-cell battery-gobbling cassette player on the beach. And me? Over and over, I listened to my Raffi tapes and Mini Pops music. I knew every word to Raffi’s songs, he was such a pivotal part of my childhood. I lived on Frenchman’s Bay and I really did think he was referring to my home in Down by the Bay.
I didn’t think too much about him again until we had our daughter. We downloaded every Raffi song we found, and then I went to HMV and had to special order the DVDs of his performances. Story watched those DVDs over, and over. We even took them on our Christmas vacation to my parents’ home in Newfoundland. She danced and sang along, her joy tripling my own. I had passed along something so wonderful to her: the joy of the happy music of Raffi. I looked online to see if Raffi was still performing, but sadly discovered he wasn’t touring anymore. I was devastated. Having never seen him as a child, I had really hoped to be able to do so with Story. Disappointed, I set to learning more about Raffi.
Turns out, Raffi has been extremely busy while I was obliviously growing up. He has been doing incredible work with his organization, The Centre for Child Honouring. From their website:
The Centre for Child Honouring—on Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada—is a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to advancing Child Honouring as a universal ethic, an organizing principle for societal transformation.
Child Honouring is a unique social change revolution, one with the child at its heart. It is a positive vision that stresses “the primacy of early years” as key to activating the powerful potential of our species.
This struck a chord with me. Urging respect for all children, a focus on conscious parenting, and the importance of a caring community; this is everything I want for my children. This is what I stand for. I urge you to read more about it here, as well. This childhood idol of mine is working towards something of global importance! It made him seem that much more special.
When our son was born, it was into a family of Raffi-loving people. So when I found out that he would be playing in Toronto on December 2, I bought tickets for us. See, December 2 was also Mason’s third birthday; what a gift! A Raffi concert! For months, I was excited to finally attend.
When I discovered Raffi on Twitter, I was elated! How exciting to have a way to connect directly with him and tell him how thankful we are for his music and for all the work he does for children around the globe. He is humble and friendly, receptive to tweeting with fans and actively involved in conversations about the safety of kids online, and fair play in hockey. I was pretty excited when Raffi replied to me. That alone was pretty amazing.
A couple weeks ago, Story asked for a big favour from Raffi. She asked him to sing Happy Birthday to Mason at his concert on December 2. She understood that it was a long shot, but I told her that you never know what’ll happen if you don’t ask. So we tweeted the link to Raffi. He said he wasn’t sure that could happen, but to pass along hugs to both the kids. They were elated! Raffi had seen their video! He replied! This was huge news in our house, and the kids were even more excited to see him in concert.
The concert was amazing. Raffi is just as warm and welcoming in person as you think he is. His songs had the Beluga Grads in the audience singing along, and all the little kids clapping and laughing. (By the way, you should check out Raffi’s On Hockey Days, a great song about playing hockey, with the goals being fun and respect!) We had such a great time, and I won’t lie: I shed a tear. Or two. Maybe a few.
In the middle of the concert, Raffi stopped and said he wanted to wish a very special boy a happy third birthday. I looked at Ryan, my jaw dropped. I heard him say, “Happy birthday, Mason“, and I thought my heart might burst. Everyone in Roy Thomson Hall was singing Happy Birthday to my little guy. Mason said, “Dat me? He sing to me, Mommy?” And I said, “Yes! It’s for you!” I couldn’t believe it. What a kind, amazing gesture.
Then, after the concert, this happened:
It is something special to dedicate one’s life to entertaining children. It is even more remarkable to put words into action and truly facilitate the protection and enrichment of the most precious lives.
So Raffi, I thank you. For everything you’ve done for my family and the world. You are a blessing, and we’re so very lucky to have you.