Playful, elegant, and not above the judicious use of the word “shit."

Vocal percussion

Every night before bed I read Marlo two books, let her turn off the light and then she stands in the hallway preparing to make a running leap through the doorway into my arms. I stand in her dark room and wait as she attempts a countdown, except in her case it’s a count up: “One, two, free, seven, nine, ten!” And then she darts blindly through the door straight into my leg. Or my crotch. Or, if I’ve made the terrible mistake of leaning down, we’re suddenly covered in blood and shards of teeth.

Last night she hit my left thigh with her face, but she didn’t have enough momentum to do any damage. I lifted her up, held her close so that I could inhale the smell of her neck, and before I could tell her I loved her she was barking orders: “Twinkle Twinkle and Its Bits Spaahder, KAAAAY?”

Those are the two songs I sing her every night. She is very much like her sister in that she enjoys her routine, so I have to lay her in her crib before I start singing. I can’t hold her and stroke her hair, NO. YUCK. SSSTTTHHOOOOPPPP. If I try that she whips her hand over my mouth and winces as if I have just started groaning like a cow whose head is stuck in a barbed wire fence. My children are so damn picky. So damn picky that they refuse to eat certain brands of canned chili. Canned chili. Future foodies, I tell you.

So I laid her down, covered her up and began the first line of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. I know enough about music to understand time signatures, and this one is sung in 4/4 time. Marlo, however, cannot count to ten, but suddenly there in her crib she started something I can only compare to beatboxing in rhythm to my singing. She was beatboxing in 4/4 time. LIKE A TOTAL BALLER.

I didn’t want to startle her out of this impromptu recital, so I lowered my voice a bit in order to hear her more clearly. She was rattling off gibberish: “Shumble boo bee doh, frumble frum boh.” And she was emphasizing the right garbled word at the right time. Then she did it all over again when I sang the Isty Bitsy Spider. Perfectly in rhythm. I was simultaneously willing the moment not to end and wanting to race to the phone to call my mother, someone who has directed the church choir for what, 80 years? YOUR GRANDCHILD KNOWS TIME SIGNATURES INNATELY.

Ok. So. She may not ever be academic or want to read books with words. Fine. Doesn’t matter. When she grows up to be a drummer she won’t need words.

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