Susan's Blog

Monday, March 17, 2008

You Shouldn’t Be A Bear

I was thinking about how we make up words in a song, if we don’t know some of them, so that we can continue singing it. When I come to a part I don’t know, I generally lower my voice and sing quietly the made-up stuff, and then go on with the part I feel confident about, and hope no one notices or calls me on it. I think of this a lot because I am always singing something to myself, and lately, these songs are Arabic, and of course, I don’t yet know Arabic (except a handful of words: wella means yeah; inta means you). Just now I heard myself singing, “With Leyla, Wella, and a shufti -loom, me anno wella no inta boom.” (From “Lelsama,” by Natacha Atlas.) Around the house, it probably sounds to my boys like Mom knows what she’s singing, but around anyone else, I keep it quiet.

It’s embarrassing not really knowing the words. But that same thing is something we all delight in and laugh about in our children as they grow up. One of my all-time favorite stories about this is when Little Nat was watching Corduroy, the Weston Woods movie, and there’s a part where the night watchman catches Corduroy upstairs and says, “You shouldn’t be up here.”

I remember watching Nat babbling the movie to himself, and hearing him say, “You shouldn’t be a bear.”

I just love, love the way kids get things a little “wrong,” and yet they are kind of right, if not better, interpretations of what is going on. Perhaps Corduroy really should not have been a bear; he was so much more human than that. Imagine all he could have accomplished if he had been allowed to roam stores at will. Not only would he have successfully replaced his overall’s button on his own and not be dependent on others; he would have been free to own a huge bed, let alone sleep in one!

But then again, Corduroy was supremely happy being a bear, especially when Lisa took him home.

What do I know, trapped in my adult, neurotypical, human configuration?

It just goes to show you. There is no way of knowing who is happier, or more the way we should be: the outwardly successful adult who embarrassedly whispers fake Arabic to herself; or the autistic little boy, who blithely reinterprets classic children’s books?

[Ned reading to Nat, 17 years ago, Arlington, MA)


Too many cookies Corduroy!

— added by Anonymous on Monday, March 17, 2008 at 8:34 am

Hey! I wish that funny and friendly anonymous(es) would identify themselves! That was one of our favorite lines from the board book “Corduroy Goes to the Doctor.”

— added by Susan Senator on Monday, March 17, 2008 at 8:36 am

My current favorite is courtesy of my 3-year old, Brian. I give you his reinterpretation of John Denver:

“Country roads…take me home…to the place…I be LOUD!!”

(That last part is sung with great gusto, as only a preschooler with a toy microphone can manage.)


— added by Julie on Monday, March 17, 2008 at 1:51 pm