“Sing Zoo Zoo Zoo with your mouth closed?” Emma said this morning as she was getting ready for school.
“Good idea!” I said. And then began to sing one of her favorite songs with my mouth closed.
She waited patiently until I had finished the first refrain and then said, “Emma’s turn!”
I knew, before I began singing that she meant she wanted to sing the song with her mouth closed, but since repeatedly correcting her over the years hasn’t made a dent in her continued use of “you” in place of “I” or “me,” I have begun taking her words more literally and seeing how that works. Other than mildly irritating her, I’m not sure it’s making much of a difference. The elusive pronoun continues to trip her up.
In addition there are words which she finds impossible to articulate. A few of them can be found in another of her favorite songs – “Fabulous”. Emma says – Sandy lot – or something that sounds suspiciously like that, in place of Fabulous as well as humming the word “imported” which is used repeatedly in the song, instead of making an attempt to say some version of the word.
Yesterday I tried more than a few times to have her repeat my enunciation of “imported” first by singing the lyrics “towels imported from Turkey, Turkey imported from Maine…” but when that didn’t help I tried to have her say “imported” all by itself. I could see how hard she was trying, she watched my mouth as I said the word, she tried her best to mimic me, all to no avail and eventually wandered off into our bedroom where I could hear her singing loudly her own special version of the song, the tune utterly recognizable even as the words were not.
Richard found the lyrics of the song online and printed out several copies so each of us could review and sing along with her when she launched into yet another rousing rendition of it, which happens more than a few times over the course of a day. Emma articulates a few lines of the song beautifully – “I want MORE!” and”Excuse Me Thank You” then lapses into her “Emmalish” – impossible for anyone to decipher. Sometimes Emma will allow all of us to join her in singing, but often, particularly when it is her brother, Nic who is singing along she will stop abruptly and yell, “Nicky L. stop singing!” or “Nic! Stop talking!”
To which we respond, “No Emma. Nic can sing too if he wants.”
“Forget it, it’s no fun now,” Nic will say as we wait for him to continue. “She ruined it.”
Or if Nic does have the fortitude to continue, Emma will stand silently for a moment before seeking refuge in her bedroom and shutting the door. It seemed as though it was as much a gesture of contempt for the whole unruly scene as a desire to escape the singing. Nic usually shrugs and returns to whatever it was he was doing before the whole thing began.
I cannot hold a tune. This is a fact I came to terms with early on in junior high school when I was contently singing along to “Angie” by the Rolling Stones and was ridiculed for my off key trilling. My ego bruised, I was careful to hum or sing quietly under my breath or in the privacy of my own room. Something I have continued to do ever since. Emma however, did not inherit my tin ear. Hers is the voice of an angel or Broadway singer, (depending on the song) as she belts out songs in decibels I didn’t know were possible.
The other week when we gathered to sing Happy Birthday, the one song anyone can sing off key with abandon, with no fear of ridicule, Emma out sang all of us put together.
“She’s got a set of pipes on her,” Richard said, proudly when the song had come to it’s end.
“Yup. She sure does,” we agreed.