It’s Not All Mary Poppins

All you need is…

A story from Friday. You might recall Friday? This happened late Friday afternoon. I was tired. I was perhaps even a bit giddy. I can get that way when I’m tired. We are singing, as we do in the late afternoons.

“Old MacDonald had a farm!
And on this farm he had a…”

“Grace, it’s your turn. What did he have?” Grace flips over the card in her lap, looks at the picture.

“He had a pig! And what sound does a pig make?”

Grace snorts most realistically. No anemic ‘oink, oinks’ around here. No, we go for full-on, full-nose, open-mouthed snorts, snorts with added value grunting. Because we have been to the farm! We know what pigs sound like!

The song continues. Each child has a card in their lap; I have a pile beside me, ready to hand out for the next round of verses. Rory had a goat. Jazz had a bunny. (No, bunnies don’t make noises — unless you count the “I’m-going-to-die!!!” shriek of terror, which I am not about to teach a bunch of babies — so what we do is twitch our noses. Cutest damned thing you ever want to see, five toddlers attempting to twitch their noses. Assuming you can get them all to twitch at the same time. Generally Grace and Rory manage it while the others give them WTF stares…)

So. Grace had a pig, Rory a goat, Jazz a bunny. And Poppy?

“What did he have, Poppy? What animal is that?”

Poppy looks at her card, considering.

Arse.” Her voice is firm. She knows what she knows. “Arse.”

I quell a giggle. “No, lovie. That’s a cow.”


“Cow, that’s right! And what does a cow say?”

She knows the “moo”, attempts a creditably drawn-out lowing. “Mmmmmoooo.” We’re back on track. Away we go, taking turns through sheep, duck, rooster, dog … and then… this picture hits the top of the pile.

So of course I give it to Poppy. Because I am mature like that. Poppy is pleased to see this picture, because this one? This one she knows!


(HA! Did I call that right, or what?!)

You will recall that I am a wild and weary woman by now, twenty or so minutes from closing on a Friday afternoon. Teachable moment, pshaw! Improve her vocabulary? Correct her pronunciation?


“That’s right! Arse!” I start to giggle. The kids smile tentatively, as they often do when an adult is being inexplicable. “Old MacDonald had an arse!” Now I’m laughing. “In fact,” I say, because I am totally on a SUPER-CLEVER, totally HIGH-CLASS roll now, “Old MacDonald had a whole herd of arses!”

I’m not quite rolling on the floor laughing, but it’s close. Rory, Grace and Poppy laugh with me, though a bit uncertainly. What are we laughing about? God knows, but it must be funny!!! Right? Yeah! Daniel doesn’t often pay much attention to circle time, but my hysteria giggles have drawn him in, and he stands at the edges, grinning broadly.

“Arse! Arse!” Poppy has gathered in some vague way this word is the source of the hilarity. “Arse!”

I attempt to sing, “Old MacDonald had an arse”, but I shudder into giggles partway through. The others are laughing without reserve now. Full-on belly laughs all round. We are a jiggling heap of lunatics right now, even though only one of us knows what’s so damned funny. Laughter being contagious and all.

Jazz, however, appears immune. She surveys the bedlam around her disapprovingly.

“NoooOOO!” her voice is thick with indignation. “HORSE. Is a HORSE, Mary!”

Does this calm us down? Not even close. In fact, and I know this might surprise you — it certainly surprised her — her protests just made me laugh harder. She huffs at us. Poor indignant, over-ridden Jazz. And the laughter rolls on.

Friday afternoon turned out to be pretty good, after all, all things considered.


November 21, 2011 Posted by | Jazz, music, Poppy, the things they say! | , , , | 3 Comments

Little kids have so much ENERGY!!!

I wish.

“Happy birss-day to you!
Happy birss-day to you!”

Tyler and Emily are making birthday cakes from playdough. When a birthday cake is completed, one must present it to the birthday boy or girl in song. Of course.

“Happy boouth-day, to you!”

It’s a catchy little ditty. The sort that very quickly becomes an ear worm.

“Happy boouth-day, dear Tyler!”

Well, it would be a catchy little ditty if it were sung the way you’re probably hearing it in your head. The version I’m hearing…

“Haaaaappyyyyy biiiiiirrrsssss-daaaaaay, deeeeeear Eeeemilllllly”

…the version I’m hearing has all the vitality of the Song of the Volga Boatmen.

“Haaaappyyyy biirrrirsssss-daaaaay toooo yooooooou!”

Happy Birthday as a funeral march.

“Haaaa-peeee biiiiirssss-daaaaaay toooooo yoooooou…”

Lugubrious to the max.

“Aaaaand maaaaannyyyyyy mooooore.”

Oh, please, no. I’m getting more depressed by the minute.

December 20, 2010 Posted by | Emily, Tyler | , , , | 2 Comments

Sing, sing a song

Aren’t they great? The harmonies! The rhythms! The (squashed in the desks) dancing! It seems clear that this is a school event or choir or club of some sort, and I know we have those here, too, but it got me thinking about singing for the sheer joy of it — because this music, it just bubbles with joy and life.

I am closer to 50 than 40. I sing all the time. So does my husband. But you rarely see children (over the age of maybe five) spontaneously burst into song, even in the privacy of their own homes.

Maybe it’s because my husband and I were raised in churches, and in our generation, in our churches, you sang, you didn’t just sit there and watch the choir do it. (My church, unlike my husband’s, didn’t even have a choir.) Possibly because far fewer people attend church these days, the singing/non-singing divide seems to have a strong generational divide — older people sing, younger people just listen (or at best, maybe, rarely, sing along). Or maybe church attendance has nothing whatever to do with it. But for whatever reason, I see younger people as being far less likely to sing, sing, sing.

Do you agree? Does anyone else find it sad that North American kids hardly ever sing for fun?

August 3, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 13 Comments