Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I Love You Rituals with Lindy

Anders shows the actions to "All For Baby".

I think my favorite part of my baby boy's body are his pink pudgy feet. I love to bite, tickle, and stroke them. When I take off his shoes and socks, I even like to smell the sweet saltiness of those square little sausages and exclaim "stinky dogs!" which always makes him laugh. This insatiable desire to play with our offspring's digits was probably bred into us like a million years ago which is precisely when "This Little Piggy" was invented. Like most families, we have our own version of "This Little Piggy" which was invented by my Grandma Wignall and goes like this:

This is little Petey.
This is Petey-roo.
This is Mary-o-so.
This is Rudy Whistle.
And this?
This is great Big Bum Bum Boo!

My Grandma Wignall also taught me to to play "Peas, Porridge, Hot." Sitting on her lap trying to simultaneously recite the rhyme while engaging in a complex hand clapping pattern was pretty difficult but once we got the hang of it you should have seen us go. Seriously, we engaged in some speed rounds that were pretty amazing. I think these hand games were like the Wii's of yesteryear: they kept restless children entertained, engaged, and (relatively) quiet. Well we don't have a Wii (not yet anyway) and I love the idea of passing on the crucial cultural knowledge that is embedded in games like "This Little Piggy" to future generations.

I recently came across a great book called I Love You Rituals by Becky Bailey which finally solved the perplexing question of what to call all these fun little games. The book reinforced what I suspected all along--that these seemingly simple interactions are actually really powerful experiences that increase childrens' brain development, promote literacy, encourage compassion and cooperation and build bonds of unconditional love. Whew. They are quite the multi-taskers, aren't they? Bailey's book inspired me to incorporate more I love you rituals into our daily routine. So, without further ado, I present you with a few of our favorites:

My dear friend, Becca, introduced me to this charming finger play last summer. It comes from the book Finger Plays for Nursery and Kindergarten by Emilie Poulsson (originally published in 1893!). That's Anders at the top there showing you all the cute actions.

1. All For Baby
Here's a ball for baby, big and soft and round!
Here is baby's hammer, oh how he can pound!
Here is baby's music, clapping, clapping so!
Here are baby's soldiers, standing in a row!
Here's the baby's trumpet, toot-too-toot, too-too!
here's the way the baby plays peek-a-boo!
Here's a big umbrella to keep the baby dry.
Here's the baby's cradle, rock-a-baby-by.

2. I Love this Boy
This sweet little song was made up by mom. She sang it to all of her children and now I sing it to my boys, Anders (4 years old) and Willem (20 months) at bedtime. Lightly stroking their face while singing this song acts as an almost magical sedative that (usually) lulls them to sleep in mere minutes!

I love this boy, this precious boy.
He fills my life with so much joy.
I love this boy. His big brown eyes.
His tiny lips that tell no lies.
I love this boy, this precious boy.
He fills my life with so much joy.
I love this boy. His button nose.
His cheeks that glisten like a rose.
I love this boy, this precious boy.
He fills my life with so much joy.
I love this boy, this precious boy.
And he's mine, all mine.

3. Do You Know How to Kiss?
If Anders is being a bit of a grumpy bear, I ask him these rather provocative questions and it usually cheers him right up.
Do you know how butterflies kiss? (I flutter my eyelashes against his cheek)
Do you know how Eskimos kiss? (We rub noses)
Do you know how pixies kiss? (I give him a little peck on the cheek)

4. Kindermusik
Kindermusik is a great resource for discovering new love rituals. I took Anders to their Mommy and Me classes and we learned dozens of songs and the accompanying actions. Now that we have most of the CD's and books, the boys and I have our own Kindermusik "class" in our living room. One of Willem's favorite songs right now is "Giddy Up!" which is a variation on the age-old trick of using your lap as a horse. Here in addition to acting like an equine, you also get to be a speedboat! And a train! And a race car! If you can do it more than five times in a row, you can also count it as your daily exercise!
Giddy Up!
Giddy up, horsey, pullin' a wagon.
Giddy up, uh, oh, wheels are draggin'.
Giddy up, speed boat, splishety-splash.
Giddy on up and giddy on back.
Giddy up, race car around the race track.
Giddy up, vroom, vroom, home in a flash.
Giddy up, Dinah, early in the morn.
Giddy up fast and blow your horn.
Giddy up, Willem, Anders and Pop.
Giddy up everyone! Hip, hip, hop.

Here's another super simple favorite that we use to make the chore of washing all of our hands slightly more enjoyable: "wishy washy, wishy washy, wishy, washy, weeeee!" It's probably pretty obvious but when you get to the weeee! part really let your hands fly. The bigger the better, here, folks!

5. Hug
We are big fans of Jez Alborough's simple picture books. We especially love the ones about a sweet little monkey named Bobo. In Hug, Bobo sees other animals in the jungle snuggling and wonders when he'll get a hug of his own. In Tall, Bobo feels too small, so he climbs on top of increasingly taller animals until he reaches the top of a giraffe, and then he . . . .falls. Luckily, in both books Bobo's mom rushes in at the last moment to catch him, and to hug him. Both of my boys love to reenact (over and over and over again) the falling, the catching, and the hugging. I get to play the heroine and save them from their catostrophic falls and crippling emotional pain. This simple game only takes a few minutes to play but it helps me to be fully present when I'm with my boys. The fact that it also helps them to feel safe, securely attached and absolutely adored makes it definitely worth the small (or depending on the day, herculean!) effort.

I know you all have your own sweet little love rituals and with Valentine's Day just around the corner, I'd love to start a new ritual (or two or three)! So, please, share your favorites.


We live in a Zoo! said...

Fun! I love it! I love to see my kids having fun with actions and words. I love to see how they try their best to follow along :D Your boys are such cuties!

Linds said...

What cute ideas! My Dad was never able to remember the words to "pat-a-cake" so he made up his own along with actions which involve a lot of throwing and tickling. We call it "patty cake" and it is a timeless tradtion that is being passed down to multiple generations.

Steph said...

I confess, the words to 'I Love This Boy' brought tears to my eyes. What a sweet, sweet thing to share with your sons.

Our favorite fingerplay is "Here is the church, here is the steeple, open the doors and see all the people. Close the doors and let them pray. Open the doors and they all run away."

Thanks for a beautiful post. This made my day.

Laurel said...

We love "I Love You Rituals" in this house. My mom was the best at this--probably because her mom was, too. Our family loves to take the baby on a horsey ride, bouning them on your knee: "This is the way the little girls ride, walk-a-walk-a-walk-a-walk. This is the way the little boys ride, trot-trot-trot-trot-trot. But THIS is the way the COWBOYS ride, a-gallop-a-lope-a-gallop-a-lope-a-gallop-a-lope." (The baby gets a wild ride on that one.)

And this is one of my favorite poems to recite to my children at bedtime, especially if they let me rockabye them:


by: Eugene Field (1850-1895)

HAVE you ever heard of the Sugar-Plum Tree?
'T is a marvel of great renown!
It blooms on the shore of the Lollipop sea
In the garden of Shut-Eye Town;
The fruit that it bears is so wondrously sweet
(As those who have tasted it say)
That good little children have only to eat
Of that fruit to be happy next day.

When you 've got to the tree, you would have a hard time
To capture the fruit which I sing;
The tree is so tall that no person could climb
To the boughs where the sugar-plums swing!
But up in that tree sits a chocolate cat,
And a gingerbread dog prowls below--
And this is the way you contrive to get at
Those sugar-plums tempting you so:

You say but the word to that gingerbread dog
And he barks with such terrible zest
That the chocolate cat is at once all agog,
As her swelling proportions attest.
And the chocolate cat goes cavorting around
From this leafy limb unto that,
And the sugar-plums tumble, of course, to the ground--
Hurrah for that chocolate cat!

There are marshmallows, gumdrops, and peppermint canes,
With stripings of scarlet or gold,
And you carry away of the treasure that rains
As much as your apron can hold!
So come, little child, cuddle closer to me
In your dainty white nightcap and gown,
And I 'll rock you away to that Sugar-Plum Tree
In the garden of Shut-Eye Town.

lori said...

Fabulous post! I strongly believe in the importance of these little rituals and songs! And the ones you shared are so sweet!

My children love the traditional fingerplay:
Here are mothers knives and forks
Here is mothers table
Here is sister's looking glass
Here's the baby's cradle
(then we sing rock-a-by baby)

And the song:
Way up in the sky
where the little birds fly
(hands fly in the sky like birds)
down down in their nest
where the little birds rest
(hands cup together to form a nest)
With a wing on the left
(hands on left side of face)
And a wing on the right
(hands on right side of face)
The dear little birdies sleep all the long night... many others!
Really, I don't think it matters much what we say/sing with them - just that we do! And that we do it with lots of eye contact and love!

Bloom said...

We love "I Love You A Bushel & A Peck." And "A Peanut Sat on a Railroad Track." Lindy, thank you for this post, it's just fantastic. And I am so thankful for these suggestions, this is something I need to improve on with my little ones. These are just the kinds of things I want their childhood to be full of. I fear that with so many screens and so much digital entertainment, we're going to lose these charming interactive songs and rhymes.
I also want to call my grandmother today and ask her about songs and rhymes she did with her children - this is such a sweet part of genealogy and a way to connect your children with generations of children before them.
thanks again,

Becca said...

Lindy, this is great! I am dying to hear the tune to "this precious boy" so I can start incorporating that one too. My other favorites from the finger play book is Piggy Wig and Piggy Wee and Mrs. Pussy, sleek and fat, with her kittens 4. My kids love this too and it is one of the strongest sources of childhood memory for me.

LJ said...

Ladies, thank you for sharing your favorites! Most of them are new to me and I can't wait to try them out with the boys!

Bloom said...


I am just wishing we could have a video of you singing these so I could learn all the tunes!

All for Baby is a family favorite over here. Why is the hand motion for the baby's umbrella the cutest thing ever?