Lightning Butterfly

As you might have figured out by now, we do a lot of singing in our household. We sing to get chores done, sing to walk, sing to celebrate, sing to eat, sing to go to bed… heck, sometimes we even sing when we shop.

As you can tell, there’s a lot of singing going on. This is not to say that we’re particularly good, mind you – just enthusiastic. In particular, I really enjoy making up songs about whatever happens to be going on. I guess this could be called improv, but I think of it more as “filking for toddlers”. It’s fun, particularly because they’re usually such an appreciative audience.

A couple of months ago, C surprised me as I was putting him to bed. I asked him which lullaby he’d like to hear, and he said “No, no. I’ll sing you a lullaby.”

Like I said. It surprised me. “Okay. What’s it called?” I asked.

“Um…Lightning Butterfly. Yeah, Lightning Butterfly.”

This time, I generated the appropriate enthusiasm. “Sounds good! Let’s hear it!” I squatted on the floor next to his bed. He laid back and began to sing. The song was a rambling stream of consciousness, involving a fair amount of nonsense mixed in with ruminations about things he liked. Typical verses were like “and I really like to watch movies and play trains and”, followed by nonsense words and then “pirates and dinosaurs…”, followed by more nonsense words.

Don’t get me wrong. It was exciting to hear him put together a tune on the fly. However, the song just didn’t seem to end. It went on and on and on, often looping back on itself. I was finally getting desperate enough to interrupt him when he stopped and said “there! Did you like it?”

“Fantastic!” I said, standing up.

“Now, you sing it!”

Umm…Err… “I don’t know the words.”

“Okay, I’ll sing it again and you listen. Then you sing it.”

Uh-oh. I really didn’t think I was capable of memorizing 10 minutes of stream of consciousness. For that matter, I didn’t think it would be the same the second time he sang it. Casting about for some escape route, I fell back on that oldest of parental tricks: “Oh, I can’t. It’s too late. It’s bed time! You need to get to sleep.”

“Ohhhh Man!” He flopped back on his bed dramatically.

“Night night, big guy.” I said.

“Night, dad.”

“It really was a great song,” I said.

“I know.” he said.

I turned off the light and left the room, closing the door softly behind me. Not my most shining of moments.

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