"Crawling on your knees toward it"
MGMT are known for their vague lyrics. This line is no exception.Deep Thought
What is the "it" that the baby is crawling towards? His mother? A toy? An unruly porcupine? "It" is just not clear. Perhaps "it" is more of a metaphor—the baby might be crawling towards his future or fate. In the next line, MGMT sings that the child is "making momma so proud." We might assume from this that whatever the baby is crawling toward is something positive. Of course, MGMT consistently presents a pretty messed up view of childhood, so that might not necessarily be true. Ultimately, we can't ever know for sure what they mean. That's just what makes MGMT's lyrics so fun. You could think about them forever.
"Control yourself / Take only what you need from it"
The main message of the song. Again, this could mean many different things. One theory out there is that it's a reference to Shel Silverstein's illustrated children's book, The Giving Tree.Deep Thought
The Giving Tree is a timeless childhood classic. The book is about a boy and his tree. "Once there was a tree," it begins, "and she loved a little boy." The tree loves the child so much that she gives him everything he asks for; first her apples, then her branches for lumber, then eventually her entire trunk for a boat, until nothing remains but a lonely stump. The little boy becomes an old man, and finally the tree takes her final happiness when the stump gives her friend a nice seat to rest his weary bones. What's the moral of the story? We're not quite sure, actually.
"A family of trees"
This reworking of a familiar phrase deserves some attention.Deep Thought
It may just strengthen the case that the previous lines are a reference to The Giving Tree. Perhaps it implies that the boy and the tree are somehow related and are a family. Of course, it could be a literal pun on the phrase "family tree," which is a chart that illustrates a family's bloodline. Kids have a lot to do with family trees, too.
"The water is warm"
This one could be referring to a baby bath.Deep Thought
Remember when you were so little you could fit in the kitchen sink? Probably not. But your parents do. Babies can't take extreme temperatures. Really hot or really cold water freaks them out. This could be seen as a metaphor. Parents are supposed to be the guardians of their child's well-being, right? Eventually, though, they have to allow their kids to experience pain and hurt. Otherwise, a child will never grow up. The water in the song is "warm" but "sending me shivers." Perhaps, the line points out that even though the parents are going out of their way to protect the baby; they can't keep him safe forever.
"Like looking through a fogged mirror"
One of the most visually powerful similes in the song, this line suggests that we slowly forget our childhood as we age.Deep Thought
If you look into a mirror that is fogged over, you will recognize yourself only as a blurred image. You won't be able to make out sharp facial features. This is probably a metaphor for how we look back on our own childhoods. It's like looking at ourselves without actually seeing the complete picture. Yes, we are still the same person, but once we grow up we lose a lot of the innocence and naiveté that marks childhood. Not to mention that we probably look completely different. Science has confirmed that the human body completely regenerates its cells within the span of a human life. In a way, we literally aren't the same person we used to be. No wonder it's a little foggy when we try to look back on who we once were.