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nursery rhyme mashup

For a while as Munchkin progressed through infancy and towards pre-toddlerhood, we were convinced that each stage of his development was about as good as could be imagined. He seemed to get cuter with each developmental leap and at each stage we consciously tried to savor the moment because we found it difficult to envision us being more enraptured with him when he ceased being so tiny and cuddly. His imperiousness once he hit toddlerhood and the whining that accompanied his frustrations at being unable to communicate his desires reinforced the perception that some of the best moments of parenthood were behind us. But now that he has become a regular chatterbox, we are back to thinking that this is as good as it gets – he may no longer be the cute little ball of snuggles he was when he was born, but he is certainly much more fun to interact with.

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Despite the genetic disadvantages he inherited in the form of D’s tone-deafness and S’s inability to remember song lyrics, Munchkin loves to sing. He vastly expanded his repertoire since starting school, adding not just new English songs but French ones as well. That he does not speak French and can only approximate the lyrics has failed to deter him. He serenades us every morning on the way to school, substituting nonsensical syllables for the words he does not know with confidence and an earnestness that makes us snort with laughter.

He has also taken to narrating the nursery rhymes and songs that he does know by heart, delivering spoken word renditions of such timeless classics as “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed,” with his own embellishments. Sometimes it’s not monkeys, but rather five little lions that were jumping on the bed in his account. At other times, a crocodile makes an unexpected appearance or Munchkin adds details that do not figure in the original: “Two monkeys were jumping on the bed,” he’ll start, “and one fell off and bumped his head, and then the crocodile came, and the leg was broken, and mommy called the doctor, and the doctor said it was bad, and there were no more monkeys jumping on the bed.” This might make little sense to some of you, but those who know the nursery rhyme will appreciate the hilarity of these embellishments, delivered as earnestly as if Munchkin were recounting what he did at school that day.

There is a Canadian nursery rhyme with which S grew up about elephants that go out to play along a spider’s web. S used to sing it to Munchkin when he was just a few months old to rock him to sleep, and it seems the tune has become embedded in Munchkin’s subconscious. On car trips, he requests the song ad nauseum, narrating along with the music as the number of elephants increases: “One. One elephant….Look, mama, three! Three elephants!”

Munchkin’s vastly expanded song repertoire is clearly a product of school. By and large, we have been very happy with the attention and instruction he receives there. The only downside is that after a couple of months of school, he has taken on a decidedly Rwandan accent, to the point of mixing Rs and Ls in his speech. That is something we’ll need to work on reversing before the habit becomes too ingrained.

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