We have returned from the Valley of Pigflu.
Hope you are well too. Though what I’m writing about today makes me a little heart-sick.
Seems nursery rhymes are dying out. The London Telegraph reports that modern parents find them old-fashioned and uneducational. Harumph.
I sensed the first stirrings of this 20 years ago, when Boywonder was young enough for playdates. When the living/rumpus room was a wreck and blocks had gone from stackable objects to missiles, I would settle the boys down on the couch for a book or two. Out would come good ol’ Mother Goose. Boywonder could recite the rhymes with me–and Visitor? Never heard ’em before.
Nursery rhymes were a huge part of my childhood. Song lyrics. Games. Books. What an easy transition from memorized poems to reading those poems on the page.
Rhythm and rhyme. Babies learn motor coordination in poems like Pat a Cake and This Little Piggy. Surely nursery rhymes pattern young brains to appreciate Ode on a Grecian Urn and Leaves of Grass later in life. Listen to the rhythm:
Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross
To see a fine lady upon a white horse
With rings on her fingers and bells on her toes
She shall have music wherever she goes.
I don’t know about you, but that nursery rhyme makes me feel like setting a 2-year-old on my knee and bouncing her around while she giggles. And don’t forget to pinch her little fingers and toes at the appropriate parts.
I could always pull several dozen nursery rhymes out of my skull at the drop of a hat. When Bottled Lightning was four, she and I had a nursery rhyme-off at the car repair shop. Now that I think about it, that’s damn weird. But, hey. That’s how we roll.
My nursery rhyme roots go back to my grandmother, who was born in 1885. She grew up educated, but very poor. Eventually, she became a leading member of the DAR and a well-known genealogist. At that time, it was a woman’s only way out of obscurity. Her grandmother recited the rhymes to her, and I will recite them to my grandchildren. Imagine. The very same poems, entertaining seven generations.
I can’t end this post without adding my favorite nursery rhyme of all time. I don’t know why, but this is it:
Bobby Shaftoe’s gone to sea,
With silver buckles on his knee:
He’ll come back and marry me,
Pretty Bobby Shaftoe!
Bobby Shaftoe’s fat and fair,
Combing down his yellow hair;
He’s my love for evermore,
Pretty Bobby Shaftoe.
Tell me your favorite nursery rhymes. Come on, guys. Don’t let me down!
My daughter, Bottled Lightning is home.
She spent a month in the Land of the Rampant Cow and Pungent Streets.
India, that is.
Bottled Lightning is not your typical middle child. She always has a goal, an adventure or a cause that she’s working on.
I’ve often wondered if she was switched at birth.
Even when she was a child, she was always busy. When she was two she was forever cutting things out of construction paper. What they were…well, she knew what they were, even if we didn’t. She collected cicada skins and glued them to cardboard in the attitude of an invading army. She trained the dog to jump a course like a horse.
This year she brought school supplies to El Salvador. Spearheaded a girl-trip to Hawaii in three days. Built a house in New Orleans. Canyoned in Switzerland. Made super-deluxe A+ grades in college and worked two jobs.
And she’s not on amphetamines. Or even coffee.
My Occasional Guest Blogger, Freckles McYoungest made her first entry yesterday.
I think she did a good job. She was clear and concise, used interesting information and gave audio-visual demonstrations.
It’s not easy being the youngest. The last of the tribe is always one step behind, busting a gut to keep up with the older siblings. It’s especially hard when the brothers and sisters in front of you are high-achieving.
But guess what. Freckles McYoungest is her own person with her own interests. And most of them are socially acceptable.
She has put a Scottish flag on our porch. (Are we Scottish? Well, of course not!)
She quotes Monty Python. (“I banged me gavel, I waggled me wig.”)
She plays Halo on her Xbox.
Her goal this summer: Become nocturnal.
She can wiggle her neck like it’s on a swivel. (“Oh no you di-in’t!”)
She laughs in her sleep.
Freckles McYoungest is one fascinating specimen.
I have been writing my YA novel on a 15-year-old computer. It freezes at least twice a day. It is riddled with viruses and worms. It does funky things when I’m trying to add page breaks or format page numbers. The monitor is scratched. The mouse has to be thumped and fiddled with to work. The printer makes awful sounds. I back up my work on floppy disks.
On Memorial Day, I was on the front porch monitoring the progress of the sun across the sky. Boywonder was home from Chicago, and had just returned from an errand. He came out on the porch and handed me a new, wireless mouse.
Great! We could use it on the used but nice, old but newer than what we had family computer, and I would take the old mouse upstairs to use on my ancient, glorified word processor.
Out comes Boywonder again. With a microfiber cloth. Wonderful! We’d use it to keep the downstairs monitor nice.
And then a thumbdrive.
Then a powerstrip, then a laptop cooler, then a case…
And a laptop! Dell, no less!!!
My 25-year-old-son decided his writing mom needed a laptop.
The pieces started to fall into place. The sudden trip home. The inordinate interest in my writing process and personal goals and deadlines.
It’s been over a week, and I still get teary.
Sure, the laptop is great. I can get internet on it. It’s fast, it’s reliable and easy to use. I can get unbelievable amounts of work done now. I can do it on the third floor. I can do it on the first. I can do it on the porch. I can do it in bed. (Pause while you construct your own joke.)
That’s all really nice.
But you know the best part?
My son seeing me as more than just his mom.