The latest thing from Elka is the Row Row Row your Boat medley. It goes something like this (at a fast and furious pace):

“Row row row…baa baa baa…upabova…quack quack…ringaringa…ladidadida (repeat)”. While walking to a friend’s place this afternoon, she entertained herself the whole way with this little gem. It’s a medley of all her favourite nursery rhymes, or maybe just the ones she remembers, and is accompanied by very convincing hand gestures. Of course being the parents we are, when her demanding little hands outstretch for a “Row row row” and a “ringaringa”, we obediently oblige, and partake in the singing/gesturing fiasco until she tires of it.

Singing has always been a big part of Elka’s life. From the third day she was born, and she opened her little throat to scream mightily, I clutched her to my chest desperately wondering what the hell I was going to do. I bopped, I walked, I rocked. Eventually I sat on a gym ball and bounced and sang the nicest song I have ever sung, which was composed from my mother’s heart and sung in the sweetest voice, never to be recalled again. She paused from her screaming, and then rested into my chest, and eventually fell asleep. We had found our solution to everything.

Greg would pace down corridors in the late hours of the night, hugging that screaming bundle to his big chest, singing Dutch nursery rhymes, or chanting Buddhist chants until the screaming bundle could scream no more. I would rock her steadily, whilst singing Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah repeatedly. This remains my default song that arises when a song is in need. I know it better than how to breathe.

We sung in the car. On every trip. Every trip inevitably descended into crying and screaming, and so together Greg and I would pump out one nursery rhyme after ballad until our throats ached or Elka fell asleep. This is where Granny Annie came in…she spent a good part of her month in Australia introducing Elka to many Dutch songs, and keeping her entertained with her sweet voice in the car.

At some point (after 14 months), Mum discovered you could play nursery rhymes on the CD player, and they in fact had the same effect as the singing. Actually they were better. We have never travelled without a nursery rhyme CD since.

And the rest of the time, Greg and I are making up silly ditties for Elka (usually about Elka), so I guess it is no surprise she is quite rapt with her own little nursery rhyme medley, now that she can say a few words. I suspect there will always be a little song in Elka’s head, and it will probably be Hallelujah.