I never understood why an old man would want to play knick-knack on any part of my anatomy (or even what that truly means), but when I’m driving home with the girls trying to keep them awake so that we can all nap together at home later, “This Old Man” is a great car-riding jingle. The best part about this song is that you can substitute any number rhyming word with the staple for a silly alternative to keep the kids laughing (when we do two, we scream “BOO!” really loudly). It’s great, but when the kids are over an hour behind their napping routine, and they have a bellyful of restaurant lunch and lemonade, even “This Old Man” needs some extra pizzazz if I, too, hope to catch a few Z’s.
Today, on our way home, after the counting and rhyming games we usually play had worn thin, I started singing “This Old Man” in my operatic falsetto hoping to keep them awake the 20 more minutes it would take before I pulled into the garage. It worked, but only through the number two, partly because my voice could no longer take it and partly because they were more interested in closing their eyes for a couple of hours. Every time I called their names, though, they sprang to attention, wanting to know why. I decided that instead of singing this old man, I would insert one of their names (thank goodness for my 3-syllable naming foresightedness).
It took a pass or two for them to realize that I wouldn’t stop, so they started to get agitated, wanting me to hush for the rest of the ride. I took that anger as a sign that I could keep them up, and kept right on singing. Just a mile left, I thought as I sang louder and slower (I was already on seven). If my kids, and the people in the cars next to me, had tomatoes and the gumption enough to throw them, I would have been a mess.
“MOMMY!” the princess shrieked. “Just STOP, okay?”
“No, baby, I love this song,” I replied as I briefly interrupted my own singing.
“But I do NOT roll home! I said, ‘I do NOT‘ roll home, Mommy!’ That’s just silly,” she retorted.
Finally reaching ten and pulling into the alley, I finished out the song with the pirate’s name leading the verse.
“I do NOT like that, Mommy,” she spat at me as I turned around to check my spacing behind the van (I never can tell with that rear-view mirror).
“That song is worse than I thought,” the princess announced as she unhooked her seat-belt.
“You girls ready for a nap?” I questioned as I let down the garage door.
“Yes,” the pirate replied.
“But please, Mommy, no more knick-knack, okay?”
Okay, princess, I thought.