Find your place

And so it was that the pig found his place in the world of the farm.
And he was happy,
even in his dreams.

I am formulating a grand theory about toddlerhood. Are you ready? It is this: more than anything in the world, they need to know their place.

I don’t say it in a Victorian master-to-servant way, stamping my toddler down while twirling my diabolical moustache. What I mean is that knowing how you stand – in relation to other people and by yourself – can mean an awful lot. Henry is a child to his parents (he is loved, he will be taken care of, our decisions are final); he is an older brother (he has a friend, he has an ally, Teddy will follow where he leads); he is himself (some things in the house are his, he has his own strengths, we appreciate him as an individual).

I think I’ve expressed that rather badly, and it definitely won’t fit on a business card. I’ll try to refine it before I patent it, don’t worry.

I’ve been working on the last one particularly, lately. I noticed that I was grouping them together more – talking about ‘the boys’, and giving them both a joint, diluted version of my attention. And oh, my dears, being two with a tiny sibling is hard. It can be crappy to share your mother, especially with a kid that can’t even sit up yet. He needs to feel that there are times I only look at him. (Teddy will too, before too long. Best to start now.)

So I started with the songs. Teds has been rocked to sleep to the tuneless strains of ‘Moon River’ since he was tiny. I remembered that when I would pace with baby Henry in the dark, I would grope for song scraps to sing to him, and out would come, effortlessly, this:

if I had words
to make a day for you
I’d give you a morning
golden and true
I would make this day
last for all time
then give you a night
deep in moonshine

Which, as any self-respecting child of the eighties knows, is the song Farmer Hoggett sings to the pig in ‘Babe’. (If you happen to be born in the seventies instead, you may know it as a weird reggae-beat duet by Scott Fitzgerald and Yvonne Keeley. Farmer Hoggett sings it better, as indeed ‘Babe’ does most things better, and that is the end of it.)

We resurrected it. It suits him, somehow. After their baths I rock Teddy to sleep with ‘Moon River’ (it almost never takes more than one verse. Boy likes to splash, and it’s hard work) while Henry waits in his towel. That’s Edward’s song. If Henry interrupts I tell him, gently, that this is Edward’s time. Then it’s his turn. I take him on my lap and he sings it with me while I rock him. It’s the first song he’s learned all the words to, and if I told you that his ‘gowden and TWOO’ line didn’t just about kill me every time, well, I would be telling you a lie.

Last week I found a £3 copy of ‘Babe’ at the supermarket. The look on his face – transported with absolute wonder – when Farmer Hoggett starts to sing was something to see.

‘Thass Herry’s song!’ he whispered, eyes wide. I squeezed him, and gave my moustache a victory twirl.

Now we’ve watched ‘Babe’ three times in the space of twelve hours, which is a bit much. Even for a child of the eighties.

And so it was that the pig found his place in the world of the farm.
And he was happy,
even in his dreams.


Postscript: I’ve also now moved his storytime to just before bed, when Teddy is asleep. It settles him better than… hmm, I’d like to say that it settles him better than any combination of dummy-and-bottle ever did, but the dummy-and-bottle combo was like baby crack [AND I MISS IT]. So, no. But aside from those things, it settles him extremely well.

7 thoughts on “Find your place

  1. I’m glad you found your song. Ours were far more commercial: I would rock Joshua to sleep by singing ‘Somewhere In My Heart’ by Aztec Camera, and later ‘The Boxer’. Meanwhile, Thomas – who was a grumpy baby, as you will recall – would only ever be soothed to ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’, which I eventually kept as a link on the desktop.

  2. So sweet, I used to sing nonsense, made up songs mixed with nursery rhymes. I love the idea of each child having a song, wish I had thought of that. The one I still sing to Jake, much to his horror is Jacob Marley.. He’s so funny! even when his nappies are runny! ta la la la ..lalalala. tra la la la, lalala. Mothering gold obviously.

  3. Oh thats such a lovely idea, having a song for each baby. We have our song, the husband and I. I need to find something for the baby. Right now, it is the rattle thats doing the magic. BTW Ed’s got such a dignified look in the photograph. Henry and my baby are alike in posing for pics, weird facial expressions 🙂

    • Hen was always a face-puller – glad to hear someone else’s baby is the same 🙂

      Tim and I don’t have a song, really! We ought to invent one. How lovely that you’ve got one with your husband.

  4. Pingback: The year of the wave | make a long story short

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