My wife says our kids are going to grow up psychotic. I am not sure why she says that, but she said it when I was expounding on a song my five-year-old came home singing from kindergarten. “Up on the housetop reindeer pause…”
“You know,” I said to her, “Reindeer don’t have paws. They have hooves. Shouldn’t it be, ‘Up on the housetop reindeer hooves?’”
She looked at me dubiously. “Daddy, the song says paws so they have paws.”
“I’m sure reindeer have hooves,” I told her. For some reason my children view things that I tell them with skepticism, even at five years old.
She narrowed her eyes at me. “Have you ever seen a reindeer?”
“No,” I answered.
“You see, then, you don’t know. And I’m sure they have paws. Besides, hooves doesn’t rhyme with Santa Claws.”
“I have seen pictures of reindeer and they have hooves,” I answered, “and perhaps it is really supposed to be Santa Clooves and someone got it wrong.”
She looked at me like I was a couple quarts short of a full eggnog. “Well,” I continued. “why don’t you ask your teacher tomorrow if reindeers have hooves or paws and then we’ll know the proper way to sing it.”
My wife turned to me. “You know you might be getting another phone call from the school.”
I nodded. It wouldn’t be the first time a teacher wondered if I had escaped from an asylum somewhere. My innate desire to make up words to children’s songs might be why they decided I shouldn’t teach nursery anymore at the church I attend. Parents would come to me and say their children came home singing songs they had never heard before. On the most part they were the same songs, but the words were different. It is a handy habit when I get to a verse for which I can’t remember the words. A friend of mine, instead of making up words, simply hums. It drives me crazy to hear him sing. “Oh give me a home where hum hum hum and antelope play hum hum hum…”
I’d rather fill in the bars. “Oh, give me a ranch, with a horse that’s named Blanch, and a cow that’s named Cowamazoo. A pig that’s named Fred, at least till he’s dead, and then we’ll just call him Stew. Home, home on the ranch, where the cowboys all work till they drop, where the cows all relax as they lay on their backs so the cream can all come to the top.”
Even my wife shakes her head at me as if she wonders whether I’m hitting on all cylinders. One day a song from my youth came on on the “Oldies” station. I hate it when the songs I sing are called “oldies” because it makes me feel, well, old. Anyway, they started singing, “Yummy, yummy, yummy, I got love in my tummy and I feel like a lovin’ you…” My wife turned to me in shock. “When you sang that I thought the words were so strange that I was sure you had made it up!”
Well, if you are ever somewhere and someone is singing the wrong words, it’s probably just me. Perhaps it would be better if I just learned to hum.