Thursday, April 23, 2009

Freudian Slip

Today is Thursday which means taking my daughter to toddler music class at the Y. It is literally Seconda’s only scheduled activity or engagement all week -- neglected second-born that she is -- but it’s a good class, very low-key, very affordable, and taught by these really nice, not-at-all-annoying early-twenty-something guys who have a kid’s band called Rolie Polie Guacamole. Although they each have their own normal names, Seconda refers to them together and individually as “Guacamole.” As in, “I love you Guacamole!!!!!!” whilst she throws her dirty socks at them, the way an off-kilter fanatic would toss her thong at The Boss’s head during “Thunder Road.”

So today, Guacamole was singing one of their story-book songs. This particular song sets the words of Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle’s Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? to music. Lovely, really. A nice, repetitive soothing ballad which gives parents the opportunity to sit down and relax as one Guacamole turns the pages of an oversized copy of the book while the other Guacamole plays guitar.(I know the names of both Guacamoles by the way, just in case you’re beginning to think I’m the sort of person that thinks toddler music teachers are interchangeable and calls for my check by yelling, “Waiter!”).

If you’re not familiar with Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? it is exactly and I mean precisely like Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? except that it features endangered species rather than run-of-the-mill animals. If you’re not familiar with either, well, you’re not missing a whole hell of a lot. I mean, its good stuff, but its no Very Hungry Caterpillar or anything. You start by asking the panda bear, “What do you see?” and when you turn the page, well, there’s your answer. “I see a whooping crane looking at me.” Then you ask the whooping crane what does he see? Bam. Bald eagle looking at me. If a two year-old can catch on to the pattern, I imagine you have by now too.

So I’m just sitting there on a yoga mat, totally zoning out and halfheartedly singing “Spider monkey, spider monkey, what do you see?” when Guacamole turns the page and lo and behold, instead of an animal, it is a child. And I swear to God, I thought I heard Guacamole sing, “Demon child, demon child, what do you see?”

So I am sitting there, criss-cross-applesauce, with Seconda on my lap, singing “Demon child, demon child . . .” and wondering how Bill Martin Jr. came to pen such a controversial line, how the book made it to press, trying to decide how I felt about this surprise ending to what I imagined was just another predictable, (let’s-be-honest) pedestrian board book, and concluding that in fact I rather enjoyed how refreshing the reference to the demon child was when I realized that everyone else in the class was singing, “Dreaming child, dreaming child, what do you see?”

Sure enough, there, very clearly drawn by Carle’s competent brush, was a child lying down with closed eyes and moons swirling around his head, almost in the shape of a halo, the very antithesis of a demon.


I guess I’m the only parent with demon-like children . . . I’m fishing here. Tell me I’m not. Tell me your kids have been so bad lately you might make the same Freudian slip.