The Beloved Wife has been a bit under the weather these past few days, and as is the case with mother's everywhere, she pushed herself a bit hard, insisting that she was well and that I should head off to work while she went about her routine. Of course this meant that she was in bed, asleep, by 7pm tonight.
Which sadly meant that she was unable to participate in the usual rituals which are associated with bed time in our household. Surprisingly the little monsters were actually understanding about this. I read the littlest one his story, then took them both into our bedroom to kiss the Beloved Wife, and then it was time for the elder's story. There was no crying or whining about needing mommy which has often accompanied bed time rituals when the Beloved Wife is on one of her rare "Girl's Night Out" shin-digs.
Of course, the 4 year old being who he is, and having been threated with dire punishments if he woke his mother, about twenty minutes after they were both tucked into bed, he came wandering into the living room. His mission, was to find someone who would sing him Baby Mine.
Now over the past 8+ years of having children I must have heard this song thousands of times. It's long been a part of the evening ritual that a child will call for the Beloved Wife and request an evening serenade. I think it nigh upon broke her heart when the eldest decided he was too old for it, and though she grumbles at times, it will do the same when the youngest finally makes that decision.
Of course none of that mattered at the moment when I had a four year-old, crawling onto my lap wanting an evening song.
After all, there were two very real issues with this.
The first is that I'm not my Beloved Wife. I do not have a good singing voice. While (with the appropriate amplification hardware) I can speak somewhat eloquently (sadly, that's a skill that's a bit rusty the last time I tried pulling it out for use), the truth is, that I can't sing. There's no rhythm in me. I can't stay on key. And the closest I ever got to harmony was this girl I met in the mountains on a business trip with my parents when I was in the seventh grade. The thing is, that I'm not talking about I can't sing in the slightly funny way that normal people can't sing. I'm talking about the American Idol outtakes version of "I can't sing." I'm talking FRIDAY-level catastrophe when I sing. I'm talking that I can get dirty looks at church level of "I can't sing." The only thing going for me in that department, is the fact that I know it.
The second is that despite hearing Baby Mine thousands upon thousands of times, I'd never really LISTENED to Baby Mine. I love listening to my wife sing. It could be the grocery list for all I care, so long as she was singing it. Quite often the words don't matter so much as the sound of her voice. So, having never really listened to the words for Baby Mine, I quickly realized that I only knew the first two lines of the song.
So, I did what any reasonable person would do in this situation.
I asked the four year old if he knew what the words were.
I think he wanted to smack me. At least that's the vibe I was getting when he looked at me. I'm not sure though. I mean, if he had been a teenager, I would have known instantly, as I'm certain I would have been met with a roll of the eyes, and a half-snarled, "really, Dad?"
Finally, I cajoled some of the verses from him. And attempted to sing.
At which point he interrupted me with the fact that I was supposed to be singing this.
Then at the second attempt, he quickly informed me that the third stanza did not begin with the phrase "Baby mine" the way the first two did.
So, I did what any reasonable person did. I suggested a different song. After all, Baby Mine was the special song that Mommy sings.
When I stumbled across another realization.
I didn't know any lullabies.
I mean, it's not like the things are exactly in my repertoire of things I do daily. Need, I remind you about my chronic case of no musical capabilities?
The first suggestion I came up with was Jesus Loves Me. I thought this would be a perfect thing, and at least it wasn't the ABC song or Baa Baa Black Sheep (fun useless fact: ABC, Baa Baa Black Sheep and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star all have the same tune). Well, there was going to be zero of the hymnals going on. Apparently, they weren't bed-time enough for the 4 year old.
I racked my brain a bit, and then came up with the brilliant idea of suggesting Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. I could see his four-year-old brain working, trying to come up with a good reason why that wasn't an acceptable song, and I realized that he was just milking this to stay out of his bed.
His response was that TTLS had to be sung where one could see the stars. This was despite the fact that he's been singing this song inside during daylight hours for most of his life. But, dear old Dad was one step ahead of that. I plucked him up, and we stepped outside so that we could see the stars. Not as clearly as during the winter, but still good enough for this purpose.
And I proceeded to sing to him.
Once that was done, we returned inside, and I checked to make sure his ears weren't bleeding (one can never be too careful when I sing), and then sent him off back to bed.
Where he stayed for like ten minutes before he was back in the living room concerned about a missing toy (that was hiding under his pillow).
Ahhh…. the joys of parentage.