Sometimes, as Raphi is careening through his day, bouncing off walls and brothers, breaking glass with his voice, he pauses. He sidles up to me and leans against my side. I pause, like I’ve been approached by a wild animal, lest I send him running again.
“Mama? Hold me.”
”Sure thing, baby.”
“Ah’m not a baby.”
The other day he generously invited me to hold him, sit down on the couch, and sing to him. So I sat, and he draped himself across my lap. I cradled him in my arms, much like I did when he was a nursing infant, and sang to him.
Hush, little baby, don’t say a word,
Mama’s gonna buy you a mocking bird.
If that mockingbird don’t sing,
Mama’s gonna buy you a diamond ring.
As I sang he relaxed against me and stared off into space, his dark eyes focused somewhere over my left shoulder.
If that diamond ring turns brass,
Mama’s gonna buy you a looking glass.
If that looking glass gets broke,
Mama’s gonna buy you a billy goat.
He tangled my hair around his fingers and sighed a sigh of contentment.
If that billy goat don’t pull,
Mama’s gonna buy you a cart and bull.
If that cart and bull turn over,
Mama’s gonna buy you a dog named Rover.
If that dog named Rover won’t bark,
Mama’s gonna buy you a horse and cart.
“Mama?” He interrupted, one soft hand on my cheek.
“That’s what dogs are SUPPOSED to do. Not bark.”
“Uh…I suppose you’re right.” I mean, have you ever been irritated at a dog for NOT barking? No one gets rid of their dog for NOT BARKING all night. Dogs are SUPPOSED to not bark. So where does that leave the song, the ode to rampant consumerism?
“Sing.” He murmured.
If that horse and cart fall down,
You’ll still be the sweetest little baby in town.
He grinned up at me.
“Ah’m not a baby.”
And just like that, he was up, off my lap, and gone again.
I’ll never really know what’s going on inside his head.