Did You Ever Have a Time, When You Couldn’t Make a Rhyme?


down-by-the-bay

“Down by the bay

Where the watermelons grow

Back to my home

I dare not go

For if I do

My mother will say

‘Did you ever see a moose

Kissing a goose?’

Down by the bay”

We were reveling in days of Raffi and grilled cheese.  Who doesn’t love a good grilled cheese and getting caught up in a nonsensical song about lamas wearing pajamas?

Weekdays, the daycare kids started arriving at 6:30 a.m.  Lyle left for work by 7:30.  There was breakfast, free play, pick up toys, music, activities like colored soap water play, pudding play, finger painting, or crafts, and then lunch.  After lunch it was naptime.  No one ever argued about picking up toys or taking naps.  Maggie was a four-year old “hall monitor,” making sure everyone was aware of the rules and letting me know when someone wasn’t.  Even then, life was black and white, cut and dried for Maggie Ann.  “The Legos go in the yellow bucket, guys.  Mom, they’re throwing it all  together, and kicking the tiny Legos under the couch.  When you try to vacenumer, they’re gonna get stuck in there. Or, wonder if Daddy steps on em?”  Little did she know that I would be sorting through them as soon as the last kiddo was down for their nap.  I think sometimes she thought this was her daycare.  She definitely thought she was in charge.  She never argued with me about it, though.  She was the best little helper any mama could ask for.

“Down by the bay

Where the watermelons grow

Back to my home

I dare not go

For if I do

My mother will say

‘Did you ever see a whale

With a polka dot tail?’

Down by the bay”

Serrah was something altogether different.  How do you explain what a two-year old Serrah was?  It was always hard to think of her as a two-year-old.  She was the kid who hashed out the details of who would be what, where the lava, the land, the water, the safety spots, and the danger zones were.  Of course, this allowed her, even at the age of two, to get the choicest roles and props.  She had spoken very little baby talk.  It seemed that she just said words one day.  She was speaking in complete sentences by the time she was two.  Her words came out clear as a bell.  Yep, every — single — word.  AND then she started eating soap.  My little blond haired blue eyed angel stood by the fridge one day, hands on her hips, incensed at something that didn’t go her way, looked up at me and said, “Fat f***ing beeeeeeeep!”  Stunned, I called my husband at work as if someone were bleeding, “Do you know what your middle princess just called me?!”  Lyle was no nonsense.  Time-out was a ludicrous parenting tactic, used by parents without backbones, whose kids would grow up to be ax-murderers.  His response came swiftly, “Well, put soap in her mouth, damit.  You tell her that Daddy’s going to paddle her butt when he gets home, too.  She probably learned it from that neighbor kid, Matthew.  He’s a little shit.  I don’t trust that kid.”  Of course it was Matthew.  Where else could she have learned that?  A shady four-year old neighbor kid was the most obvious culprit.

“Down by the bay

Where the watermelons grow

Back to my home

I dare not go

For if I do

My mother will say

‘Did you ever see a fly

Wearing a tie?’

Down by the bay”

While the other kids napped, Emily and I played, putting into practice what we were learning through the Infant Development program.  Infant Development is a program for developmentally delayed babies.  An occupational therapist came out once a month to work with us.  Every other month, a speech therapist came along.  They taught me activities and exercises to work on with her, helping to improve core strength and muscle tone.  Raising a child with down’s is like raising any other child, but in slow motion.  We pulled Emily into the next stage of development every step of the way.  It was precious time, and we celebrated every new skill.  The day she initiated “Pat a Cake” was monumental.  We were still in uncharted territory.  We had no idea what to expect, so we didn’t.  We hoped, strived, and then delighted in the results when they were gifted to us.

“Down by the bay

Where the watermelons grow

Back to my home

I dare not go

For if I do

My mother will say

‘Did you ever se a bear

Combing his hair?’

Down by the bay”

We had moved into a lease-to-own trailer house the weekend before Halloween.  It was older, fourteen feet by seventy feet, and the five of us had nestled in nicely.  We made it home.  We went to church on Sundays.  My daycare was booming, and our three little girls were thriving.  The daycare parents took time as they picked up their kids to visit a bit each day.  One couple became fast friends, as we found vast common ground.  He hunted and managed a grain elevator.  She worked at Blue Cross as a secretary.  We had dinner and played cards, or sometimes went out with them, and there was always plenty of laughter.  Shortly after Thanksgiving, the guys took the kids to Santa’s Village and brought home Christmas trees, while she and I stayed home, baking Christmas cookies, sneaking cigarettes, and sharing our life stories with each other.  We rang in 1990 with them.  The year 1990 would be an eventful one…

“Did you ever have a time

When you couldn’t make a rhyme?”

One thought on “Did You Ever Have a Time, When You Couldn’t Make a Rhyme?

Add yours

  1. Well, I got so caught up in the rhythm of poem and the the story then back to the poem….and…before I knew it….the post was over! Now I have to wait again. I love the quiet times…but….they never last long. Got a feeling this one in your blog will not either.

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