Out Like A Light, ha ha

August 22, 2010 at 8:44 pm 2 comments

Hush little baby don’t say a word,

Mama’s gonna show you a hummingbird.

If that hummingbird should fly,

Mama’s gonna show you the evening sky.

When the nighttime shadows fall,

Mama’s gonna hear the crickets call.

When their song drifts from afar,

Mama’s gonna search for a shooting star.

When that star has dropped from view,

Mama’s gonna read a book with you.

When that story has been read,

Mama’s gonna bring your warm bedspread.

If that quilt begins to wear,

Mama’s gonna bring you your teddy bear.

If that teddy bear won’t hug,

Mama’s gonna show you a lightning bug.

If that lightning bug won’t glow,

Mama’s gonna play on her old banjo.

If that banjo’s out of tune,

Mama’s gonna show you the harvest moon.

This is the song that Echo requests, after we’ve nursed until my nipples hurt and we are snuggled side-by-side. I am to sing it, again and again, until she slumbers. At first I clung to this song because, unlike the original, it doesn’t mention buying anything, but now I sing it because it happens to be one of the few songs to which I know the lyrics. If I feel her twitching in pre-sleep, I’ll veer off the program and sing Swing Low Sweet Chariot, or bits of Angel of Montgomery, belting bravely because I know a sleeping critic is not likely to object. But by and large, Hush Little Baby is the tune I sing the most. I’ve sung it so many times by now that my mind can actually wander, I need not pay close attention in order to get the sequence right.

But tonight I paid attention to the words. It’s about a mother, of course, but one like me, that pays attention, slows down, and does her very best to usher her child to sleep with patience, love, and care. But my god the hoops to jump through! A hummingbird, crickets, teddy bear, a lightning bug, even a banjo? The mother in the song shows, brings, and shares ten different items before the song ends. But if I think about it, that feels a little like my life, and probably yours as well.

Dinner involves what feels like thirty-five different versions of a simple dish, negotiations about finishing the meal, just the right fork, and a spoon just in case, but the right spoon, not just any spoon.

Toothbrushing involves the orange toothbrush, no the red toothbrush, no the orange one after all. And no wetting of the bristles. And negotiations about thoroughness. And the stool isn’t quite right where it is, it needs to be scooted closer. And no, mom can’t scoot it.

The before-bed-pee involves more stool scooting, also not by mom – even though she’s stronger, more coordinated, and exceedingly more efficient. And negotiations concerning whether or not help is needed to pull down the underwear. And, no not the skirt and underwear at once, each separately. Flushing the previous pee before any fresh pee can emerge, and a discussion about the proper amount of toilet paper.

Bed involves, pajamas? No. Covers? Yes. Actually, no. And water too. And negotiations about sippy cups of milk. A discussion about the number of books as well as the type of books, and the order in which these books are read. Kisses from Papa, and shoving the older sister as she puckers up.

Sleep involves a mention of hunger, nursing, and breast-milk running out. Crying. And bigspot-little spot, the scratchy-tickly nighttime rhyme. And mom’s arm in the wrong place. And  singing, no, no singing. Okay singing, but also more protestations and more denials of sleep.

Then, after three hundred and ninety-five rounds of Hush Little Baby, the child sleeps.

Piece of cake, right?


Entry filed under: parenting principles. Tags: , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. isa  |  August 22, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    sounds like our house tonight- how i loved this post! good night!

  • 2. kimberley  |  August 23, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    such a beautiful post. I have an 11 month old and cant wait for bedtimes with talking toddlers! nite nite x k


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