“Mummy, when I was a little girl…”
“Mummy, remember when I was in your tummy…”
“Mummy, when I was a baby…”
This is how my five year old begins almost all of her sentences. Most of the time the rest of the sentence is made up from her own imagination….
“Mummy, when I was a little girl… I always always sat on Charlie Dog’s back and rode her like a horse, and then we’d jump over the fence in the garden and she’d take me to nursery on her back. That’s right isn’t it Mummy!”
“Mummy, remember when I was in your tummy… and I used to gobble up all your food, then I’d do wees and poos in your tummy and make you sick!”
“Mummy, when I was a baby…I never cried ever ever, did I? Not like Olly. He cries all the time, doesn’t he, Mummy!”
Anyhow, today’s sentence began, “Mummy, do you remember when I was a little girl and we sang ‘Five Little Ducks’ to Olly?” Now that I do remember!
Sophie would have just turned four years old. We had just picked her up from nursery (and no she didn’t ride on Charlie Dog’s back the whole way home despite what she might tell you!) I was downstairs with Oliver whilst Sophie was upstairs playing with her tiny Play Mobil toys. I won’t let her play with them any where near Olly. It’s nothing to do with the obvious choking hazard like most mum’s of babies and toddlers are worried about. No, thanks to his dastardly delayed development, Olly still bats his hands in the air like he just don’t care like a newborn baby. But it’s Sophie I can’t trust, as she has been known to treat her brother like Mr. Potato head, prodding tiny doll’s house tea sets into his nostrils, ears and more recently down his nappy and into….well, you get the picture!
Back to the story. On this particular day I could tell Sophie was coming down with a cold or something. She was exceptionally tired after nursery, bleary eyed and overly grumpy. Putting her down for a nap wasn’t an option as I knew she’d never go to bed on time if I did that, so I put some nursery rhymes on the television for Olly to enjoy and before long Sophie had joined us downstairs chilling and singing.
I found a ridiculously long playlist of nursery rhymes on Youtube. They weren’t what you would call ‘professional’ when it came to the animation, and it was clear that the lyrics were slightly different to the ones we’ve learned. The voice on the video had an obvious Korean accent, but it didn’t matter as long as both children were occupied so that I could make a start on tea.
Sophie insisted that I sing along with the first one and it was one of her favourites, “Five Little Ducks”. All was going swimmingly (pun intended) for the first four verses until verse five. After Mummy duck says “Quack, quack, quack, quack” we would normally sing “…and five little ducks came swimming right back.” However in this Korean interpretation of the lovable nursery rhyme, disturbingly “No little ducks came swimming back.” To this Sophie was taken aback. She immediately stopped singing and paused for a few seconds looking at the television. Then turning to me, “Mummy, that’s wrong isn’t it?” There was a slight quiver in her voice and bottom lip.
“Well, it’s just different to the way we sing it.” I tried to reassure her. Then, as if that wasn’t enough for an overly tired pre-schooler to cope with, the tinny singing voice carried on to a sixth verse. Sophie laughs wildly, “Mummy there’s another one!” In this sixth verse, Daddy duck appears saying, “Quack, quack, quack, quack” and THEN the five little ducks come swimming back.
It would seem that the appearance of Daddy duck saving the day was just a step too far for exhausted, pre-fever Sophie. “Mummy, that’s just silly!” It started as laughter: her mouth open as wide as a yawning hippo, head flung back in sheer hilarity. Eyes wide and laughing so hard and deep that it was coming from her belly. Then, the moment it all gradually changed from sheer delight and joy to one of upset and horror. Not a lot changed physically per se, but it was the look in her eyes that alerted me. I could see inside her soul she was suddenly in need of comfort. The thought that none of the ducks came swimming right back to Mummy duck was tragic. Too much for the mind of the four year old to take. The fact that Mummy Duck was actually fallible. She’s lost all her ducks and it takes Daddy duck to step in to call them back and rescue the whole family. Her forehead begins to crease along with her eyes and her mouth closes a little and turns at the edges. Within moments her laughs turn to sobs like that of a drunken women lacking control of her senses.
I opened my arms as she threw herself towards me and I rocked her gently to calm her down. Slowly but surely the sobs turned to deep breaths which turned to gentle snoring… maybe she did need a nap after all!