I sing to Ellie every night as part of an evening ritual that my mom did with me.
- Get jammies
- Brush teeth
- Read stories
- Nighttime singing
It has always felt to me like observing vespers, only without the Latin canon. I cried the night my mom stopped singing to me. It felt like being forced to grow up before I was ready. But that’s another story for another time.
This one is about Elle.
Those who sing, pray twice ~ St. Augustine
When singing to Elle, I like to try to personalize the songs. “All About That Base” has become “All About Her Face” and I even have a version of “Goodnight Ladies” from “The Music Man” that my opera-singer of a college roommate has praised me on.
I have tried to make “Mary Had A Little Lamb” all about my girl and her current favorite stuffed animal, Lamby.
One time, Ellie listened, and then told me: “The next time you sing it, make sure you say she because Lamby is a girl.”
Someday, there will be a reckoning and it won’t be about the gender assignments of toys, but rather about the very nature of Lamby.
This is Lamby.
Lamby has been with us since before Elle came into our lives. A gift from Mr. Pirate’s grandmother on my birthday, the white stuffed kitten first resided on my dresser and then later, when we moved out of the apartment, into a box. While cleaning, Mr. Pirate and Elle found her and Elle struck her claim.
I don’t know where the name Lamby came from, but she’s called it Lamby ever since she vocalized that the critter is hers.
Lamby has gone through the wash machine a couple of times and has had the subsequent experience of hanging to dry out on the clothesline. She’s ridden in Ellie’s bicycle basket and has made forays to preschool where she only gets to come out at nap time. Lamby likes to fly. She tries to sit at the dinner table. She is, for all intents and purposes, exactly what Ellie wants her to be.
She’s just not actually a Lamb.
Maybe someday, that won’t be a big deal. I just worry that it will be like the revelation of the Easter Bunny or of Santa Claus and I’ll be taking away from her some essential part of her innocence. But we’ll see.
Today, on the drive to preschool, she told me that Lamby sometimes says “Meow.” We talked then about how maybe Lamby is bilingual and that she speaks two languages — cat and lamb.
Maybe someday it really won’t be that bad when Ellie realizes her lamb is actually a feline. It’ll be a gradual realization much like how we are constantly redefining ourselves throughout our lives. I’m still the sixth grader who wrote about losing her nightly songs, but I’m also the mom who is aware that kiddos are going to be who they are going to be.
I’ll try again to sing Ellie off to sleep with my rendition of “Mary Had A Little Lamb.”
Maybe it will go something like this:
Ellie had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb.
Ellie had a little lamb and Lamby was her name.