Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Relearning the ABCs by Callie

Relearning the ABCs

My three year old daughter’s favorite song is “The ABCs.” The moment she wakes up, she is singing it. She sings it during breakfast, or on the way to the park. She sings it when she’s happy or sad. It’s as if the letters A-Z hold some secret to life, and saying them over and over will remind her of this secret.

One afternoon Hadley and I were playing with blocks when she said, “Mama? Can we talk?”

“Sure.” I said and gulped nervously. What in the world could we be embarking on?

“What do you want to talk about?” I asked.

“The ABCs.” Hadley stated matter-of-factly.

Hadley has taken it upon herself to teach this song to her sister, Harper. Harper is two years younger than Hadley, and doesn’t quite appreciate the importance of knowing these 26 lovely letters. This doesn’t stop Hadley. A song this important needs to be sung over and over again.

Once, when I was getting Harper ready for a nap, Hadley thought she’d help out by singing the ABCs. With the guitar her Uncle Geoff bought her for Christmas.

This was a particularly difficult morning. I hadn’t showered or had any coffee, my drug of choice. None of us had slept well the night before, and I was feeling desperate to get Harper down for a nap.

Just as I had swaddled Harper up and begun rocking her, I saw Hadley’s forehead and eyes peak out from behind the bedroom door.

“Harper’s almost asleep. ” I tried to say it as quietly as possible.

Except Hadley took this as her cue to come into the bedroom. Guitar in hand.

“Is Harper sleeping?” she asked well above a whisper.

“Not yet, but almost.” My whisper probably sounded more like a whimper.

Hadley proceeded to sit on the floor and place the guitar on her lap. “This will help Harper get to sleep.” She told me, pointing to the guitar.

What could I do to stop what I feared was going to be the world’s worst lullaby? If I raised my voice, I’d wake up Harper, and I might’ve hurt Hadley’s feelings. She was, after all, trying to help. All I could do was watch.

She lifts her hand in the air and lets it fall on the guitar, strumming one loud, long unmelodic chord. Harper’s eyes bolt open. I’m still swaying from side to side in a pathetic attempt to erase what is going on.

“A, B, C, D, E, F, G.” Hadley sang as she strummed the guitar, thus ending Harper’s two second nap.

For as tired as I get of “The ABCs,” I know there will be a day when I’ll be wishing Hadley still sang this song. So I enjoy it as much as I can – even when I’m unshowered and uncaffeinated and there are no naps in sight.

On a late afternoon in spring, Hadley, Harper, and I decide to go outside to blow bubbles.

“Can we put some clothes on you?” I ask Hadley, hoping she will agree to taking off the pajamas she’s had on all day.

“No. I want to keep my Elmo pajammies on.”

“Fine, but we need to put shoes on.”

“Can I wear my tap dancing shoes please, Mama?”

“Sure.” I say.

Outside, I have Harper in the bjorn, who’s kicking away watching Hadley jump after the bubbles I’m blowing. Hadley stops suddenly when she sees a squirrel run past on a branch in a nearby tree.

“Hi squirrel!” she yells. The squirrel stops for a second, then darts away.

“Squirrel! Come back! I want to say hello to you!” Hadley explains.

Hadley’s back is to me. She has her hands on her hips as she watches the squirrel go away. About 30 smiling Elmos’ cover her back and legs. She shifts her weight from one black “tap dance” shoe to the next. She is a sight.

“A, B, C, D, E, F, G.” she begins.

I open my mouth to sing along but someone beats me to it.

“H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P.” my husband walks up the sidewalk, home from work.

“Daddy!” Hadley exclaims. He picks her up but keeps singing.

“Q, R, S.” he begins.

“T, U, V.” Hadley is jubilant. And then the three of us bring it home:

“W, X, Y, and Z.” Hadley’s bopping up and down on my husband’s hip, her arms moving in the air as if she’s directing. Harper squeals in delight and I give her legs a little squeeze.

“Now I know my ABCs! Next time won’t you sing with me?”

Next time, and always.

Callie is a freelance writer and mommy to Hadley (3) and Harper (1). She has been published in Christian Teacher, Christian Home and School, and the online magazine The Mommy Times. You can read more about Hadley and Harper here:, or read about the books the girls are reading here:


Jessica V. said...

This is a beautiful article and reminds me to cherish the little things even when they might start out as an "oh no" or "again?".

Thank you for sharing this!

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