March 23, 2008

I decided to start a new spring tradition and made Hot Cross Buns today. You knead cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and plumped raisins into a nice yeasty milk dough. Fabulous. The bread consistency reminds me of Texas kolaches, but the spices take this treat to a whole new place.

Henry walked through the kitchen as I was kneading the dough. As he passed me I whispered "hot cross buns hot cross buns if you have no daughters feed them to your sons" and I looked up at him. I was struck from inside out with the urge to pull this kid up on my lap and read Mother Goose. It gave me a lump in my throat, this feeling.

I read to this kid, when he was a baby and I was pregnant with his sister, sometimes for an hour at a time. This is long when you are maybe only 13 months old. We would read and read and read. Over time somehow Mother Goose and Dr Seuss and dear Sandra Boynton broke me. By the time Ry was born I could barely stand the thought of reading out loud. She really got shafted there. I read to her. I still do. But never the marathons, like her brother and I.

Suddenly today, I could feel him next to me on the couch quietly repeating "Wibbelton to Wobbelton is 15 miles." And "Rain on the green grass. Rain on the trees. Rain on the roof top, but NONE ON ME!" And "peas porridge hot peas porridge cold peas porridge in the pot nine days old." I found a lot of solace and comfort in those rhymes, in the rhythm they gave my panicked early days of motherhood. I am home. This kid is next to me. His hands are fat. His eyes see a person in me that I've never met. I am terrified. His attention is riveted. The days slide by.

Those fears are long gone. And here he is now. Tall boy, strong arms, literary tastes, blue jeans. Later I found an old copy of Mother Goose and sat on the couch. The kids appeared right beside me, their feet easily touching the floor next to mine. They listened as I read and how they laughed. I think the irony of the brutality in these little baby rhymes unhinged Henry. He was laughing so hard he had to hold his stomach as I read:

"Goosey, goosey, gander,
Whither shall I wander,
Upstairs, and downstairs,
And in my lady's chamber.
There I met an old man,
Who would not say his prayers,
I took him by his left leg
And threw him down the stairs."

And I discovered a new one, a new favorite:

Intery, mintery, cutery, corn,
Apple seed and apple thorn.
Wire, briar, limber, lock,
Three geese in a flock.
One flew east and one flew west;
One flew over the cuckoo's nest.


Heather said...

I have a cousin who, during a dinner with her not-yet-inlaws (then), made a comment about Mary and her Lamb, and was met with confused glances. In the next few moments, she discovered not only her (almost) husband, but also his parents, WERE COMPLETELY UNFAMILIAR WITH NURSERY RHYMES. Never read them. Never memorized them. Never even heard them before. Ever.

As she told me this story, I wondered how on earth a person could reach adulthood without ever hearing about Mary's Lamb, or the other Mary with her garden of silver bells, the cows in the corn and the blackbirds in the pie??? How does that happen? These are all well-educated, well-read, successful people. Although admitedly, all a bit boring, really. And sad.

Wendy Banning said...
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Katherine said...
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Mommylion said...

I grew up with the most familiar ones but have just recently discovered how many I missed as a child. I have been really into them lately....oh, and the kids too. :)

Anonymous said...

Our favorite is the version illustrated by Jessie Wilcox Smith... but any nursery rhyme is a good nrsery rhyme.