We read every nursery rhyme in existence a while back, when they were little. I read the English versions that use the word 'shall' frequently, which seems less common in America. Nobody listened to me but I persisted because I have a cussed streak. After 8 months on a waiting list, we finally wormed our way in a speech therapy spot. At last! All would be well. I sat in on every session so that I could learn what to do and how to do it. After a few sessions I asked about homework or practice. The therapist* had several suggestions. The one I remember was almost as follows:-
“Do you take them to the park to play ever?”
“Yes, almost every day.”
“So when he climbs the ladder say 'up, up, up' and as he slides down say 'down, down, down.'”
I looked at her in disbelief before I burst into tears.
These days we are on to bigger and better things, perhaps?
I have several items on my wish list; popsicle mould, shoe horn and curtain hooks. It is my lot in life to be burdened with far too many brilliant ideas, ideas that often fail to materialize or morph into a different category of catastrophe.
My wish list differs from other people's in several respects. Firstly, it should be a shopping list but instead I keep hoping that these things will just appear like magic, as I usually have a strong allergic reaction to the shopping part of the equation.
Secondly, I do nothing actively to assure that these things become part of my household. Whilst they remain in the 'wish' category, I can pretend that if they did ever arrive, they would be successful. If they did ever arrive, I would quickly discover that none of them were magical and I would still have the same issues to deal with regardless.
The shoe horn will speed up the process of persuading three small people to achieve the status of shod. The popsicle moulds will mean that one of my boys will consume pureed fruit, or at least that's the theory. I would prefer the theory not to be disproven for a while. The curtain hooks are too complicated to explain.
My daughter and I make a mad dash to the shoe shop as her trainers have died, ripped up, heel dismembered, soles unstuck, lining worn and the laces in tatters. She tries on many pairs of shoes and unlike her brothers, would be quite happy to buy several pairs.
Whilst she amuses herself I examine the socks on display to see if any might be seamless and or, cost less than a pair of shoes. My fingers step over all the alternative types of shoe laces that we have entertained over the years, none of which proved successful, merely expensive party poopers. We settle on one pair of trainers for walking to and from school, and a pair of flip flops, as it is already in the balmy 70's in California.
At the check out a shoe horn lies idly on the counter with the shop's name printed on the handle ‘for customer use only.’ Safe! “I don't suppose you have any of these to sell?” I ask blithely, confident that the dream shall remain so.
“No, but you can have that one if you like?”
I do not like! Who is she to burst my bubble! “Well thank you so much, that's extremely kind of you. Are you sure you won't get into any trouble?”
She beams me, “no, no trouble at all. Nobody uses em anyways.” She plops it into the bag with the shoes as it drops like a lead balloon. I stagger out of the shop with the weight of the world on my shoulders, or rather in the bag, as I know it's time to pop the balloon and burst another myth.
The following day I proceed with caution. We have foiled breakfast, challenged dressing, today in blue rather than Mario colours, what a coup! Teeth are approximately cleansed.
We have a well rehearsed shoe schedule. It is far from perfect but on an averagely goodly day, I can have them all shod in 12 minutes. That's not to say that whilst I focus on one child someone else won't remove and or hide their shoes, such that we're closer to a 40 minute marathon.
I produce the shoe horn with a flourish, name it, explain it's purpose and attempt to use it on the first rapturous child. Echoes of 'shoe horn' swirl around my head from two captivated boys, a thing that claims to be a horn but is silent even when you blow it. I remove it from his mouth and wipe off the spittle. This is going to take longer than I anticipated. Did I think about it all before I started? For some reason they both want to put their feet on it at the same time, a bit like skate boarding and nowhere in the vicinity of their shoes. I grab one of my own shoes and demonstrate the use of a shoe horn, “see! See how my foot just slides into the shoe?” They're even more keen to have a go but I only have one shoe horn and four little feet. We practice taking turns as I didn't expect such enthusiastic co-operation. His foot follows the shoe horn in the air as he sits on his bottom on the hard wood floor. The shoe horn appears to be magnetic to feet but we need to put the toes into the shoe first.
“I am little!”
“I know but you're growing every day.”
“I am blue!”
“Oh dear. Really? What's the matter lovie?”
“I am a boy.”
“Don't you like being a boy?”
“Put em all togevver!”
“Put what altogether?”
He grabs the shoe horn, sticks it in him mouth again and makes a raspberry noise. He collapses on the floor in guffaws of laughter. After quite a long while he recovers, and sits upright to tell me “Little boy blue, come blow up yur horn!” but only briefly, as he falls backwards, still laughing.
Little Boy Blue poem
Little Boy Blue come blow your horn,
The sheep’s in the meadow the cow’s in the corn.
But where’s the boy who looks after the sheep?
He’s under a haystack fast asleep.
Will you wake him? No, not I – for if I do, he’s sure to cry
* I have a tremendous respect for this woman, as I had a great deal to learn.