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What NOT to Sing to Your Child Before Leaving for a Trip.

When I was little, my mom travelled a lot for her job.  Before each trip, she would sing a song to me. I always loved when she would sing me the song, but I’m not going to lie, the song was very confusing. It’s okay, I turned out fine but I almost forgot how confusing the song was until I was recently leaving for a trip away from my kids and went to sing this song. I stopped myself before I finished it, remembering all too well the mixed messages in the song.

So in case any of you travel frequently and are looking for a song to sing to your kids to comfort them, I’m going to suggest you pick something other than Leaving on a Jet Plane. Let’s have a look at the lyrics from the perspective of a four-year-old, shall we?

All my bags are packed, 
I’m ready to go
I’m standing here outside your door
I hate to wake you up to say goodbye

So far so good.  As a kid, this verse is completely relatable.  My mom often left early in the morning and would tell me the night before that she would already be gone by the time I woke up.

But the dawn is breakin’, 
It’s early morn
The taxi’s waitin’, 
He’s blowin’ his horn
Already I’m so lonesome 
I could die

Again, this part of the song is safe. Of course my mom is lonesome, she’s leaving her baby girl behind. These two  days apart from her perfect little angel will probably be devastating to her.

So kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that you’ll wait for me
Hold me like you’ll never let me go.

Okay, I’m little confused because I thought I was supposed to be sleeping, you just said you didn’t want to wake me, so how am I supposed to give you a kiss? I guess you decided to go ahead and wake me up?  I’m okay with that. I’ll give you one more hug.

I’m leavin’ on a jet plane
I don’t know when I’ll be back again
Oh, babe, I hate to go.

What? Excuse me? Don’t know when you’ll be back? Last night before bed you said you would be home by dinner time tomorrow. That’s one night. Now you’re telling me you don’t know? Did plans change? How can you not know when you are coming home?

There’s so many times I’ve let you down
So many times I’ve played around
I tell you now, they don’t mean a thing
Every place I go, I’ll think of you

Every song I sing, I’ll sing for you
When I come back, I’ll wear your wedding ring.

Whoa, now. You’re gonna wear my wedding ring? I’m four. Do you realize how long it’s going to be before I have a wedding ring? You really weren’t kidding about that ‘don’t know when I’ll be back again’ part, were you? And why in the world do you want to wear my wedding ring. It’s mine. You have your own. That’s kind of creepy. Plus, do you really think after you just up and left me at age 4, that I’m going to want to share my most prized piece of jewelry with you? What if I don’t want you to wear my ring? Are you saying you just want to borrow it to get a better look at it or are you thinking you’ll wear it forever?

I’m leavin’ on a jet plane
I don’t know when I’ll be back again
Oh, babe, I hate to go.

Now the time has come to leave you
One more time 
Let me kiss you
Then close your eyes, 
I’ll be on my way.

I’m no longer feeling good about this little ‘trip’ of yours mom. You’re getting a little too sappy for a 48-hour business trip. At this point, I’ve pretty much tuned you out. I’m still stuck on the whole wedding ring part. Are we switching rings? If you are wearing mine, do I wear yours? How does this work, exactly?

At age 4, I thought this song was about a mom singing to her little girl. I mean, who else could the ‘babe’ be referring too? And to be fair, Peter, Paul, and Mary was the same group that sang Puff the Magic Dragon, not to mention The Marvolous Toy or any other songs from their Peter, Paul and Mommy album. Their Live Holiday Special was a staple VHS in our house. I had probably watched it 20 times. They were a children’s group as far as my little mind was concerned.  You don’t see the Wiggles recording love songs do you? Stick to a genre folks.

So there you have it. While it’s tempting to start to sing a few lines of Leaving on a Jet Plane while saying goodbye to your kids, don’t do it. Trust me when I say they will be far more confused when they hear that song than they would if you had just stuck to the basic details of your trip and the time you will be back.

You’re welcome.