Today, a friend posted a youtube video on Facebook that blew me away. It featured a cherubic-faced three-year-old reciting – from memory! – Billy Collins’ poem, Litany. I must’ve watched it five times in a row, and each time, I couldn’t decide whether to laugh or cry. The child’s earnestness, his joy and pride, all glowed so transparently on his beautiful, little moon-face.
It was a little bit hard to understand some of the words – after all, he is only three, and his articulation isn’t perfect – but he sometimes spoke with such expression and feeling it seemed clear that he understood a lot of what he was saying. At one point, with a little “Uh-oh!” he dropped a toy he was absently playing with, but immediately refocused and continued on with the verse. I was absolutely transfixed.
The recitation brought me back to my sons’ toddler days, when I took irrational motherly pride in their every utterance. I quickly grew bored with the traditional nursery rhymes, and helped them memorize a few less conventional poems, but they were children’s verse all the same.
From early in the nursery rhyme phase, I have a video clip of my older son at 2 sitting in his high chair, a big grin (and a lot of spaghetti sauce) on his face as I coach him through Little Boy Blue. We had only just started with this rhyme, so I was doing most of the talking, and just let him fill in the final words of each line.
Me: Little Boy Blue, come blow your…
Me: The sheep’s in the meadow, the cow’s in the…
Spoken like a true son of Ohio!