I’m no good at baby shower games. I don’t really mind, though, as I’m usually more concerned about whether or not remnants of spinach dip are stuck between my teeth from the hors d’oeuvres than if I can accurately guess whether the green goo inside the de-labeled jar is pureed peas or green beans.But just when I’m settling down in my chair and handed a pad of paper and pen, someone inevitably announces to the gathering that I’m the mother of four and then everyone moans and says, “Oh, no. Four kids! That’s no fair. You’re going to win everything!” So then it does get a little awkward when I show myself to be a complete idiot on matters of solid foods and diaper details and such. But as I said, I generally don’t mind much. It doesn’t feel like too great of a loss to have forgotten the texture of carrots -vs- sweet potatoes five years after I stopped feeding them to my youngest.So this past weekend I attended a baby shower, and as I settled onto the ottoman with my pink punch in hand, someone came around with paper and pens. Sure enough, my friend, the expectant guest of honor, announced, “Ann has four beautiful children, so…” and a few people moaned.”Oh, don’t worry,” I reassured them. “Honestly, I’m terrible at all of these shower games. I never win. Never.”So the hostess pulled out a sheet of paper and said, “For the first game, we’re going to see how good we are at remembering nursery rhymes.”Nursery rhymes? Really?A mild sensation of competition sloshed around in my veins. During my 12+ years of parenting, I’ve read a lot of nursery rhymes. Back when “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” was in its hey-day, my friend Sharon pointed out that a lot of people flubbed up on these childhood ditties. “What’s happening to our culture that people don’t know nursery rhymes?” she said. I’ve always remembered her observation and made a point to read them to my little ones. Because if any of my kids end up on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” I don’t want them to blame me for not teaching them “Little Boy Blue.” I’d rather they struggle with a question about quantum physics than chew a fingernail on national television trying to recall how many blackbirds were baked in a pie.I really wanted to win this nursery rhyme game. So I listened closely and jotted down my answers. I wasn’t sure what “Wednesday’s child” was full of (I’m sorry, Mom), and even though I’d read it dozens of times, my brain was too full of cheese dip to confirm how many days old the peas porridge was, but I knew the others. I mean, I was absolutely certain I knew the occupations of the three men in a tub and what Wee Willie Winky was wearing as he ran through the town. I even knew what the little kittens weren’t allowed to eat after they’d lost their mittens, and what Old King Cole called for.The answers came so easily (excepting Wednesday’s child and the porridge-in-a-pot), I figured they were easy for everyone. I started to doubt. I grew more and more certain I didn’t win as the women grinned confidently. Darn that Wednesday’s child. What was she full of?So we went through the answers, and straight off I missed Wednesday’s child. How could I not even guess the alliteration? Woe, woe, woe. And then the peas porridge was so much older than I remembered. In fact, it’s dangerously old. Without proper refrigeration, it surely was growing a little mold, but evidently some like it that way.But I got all the rest. Ten out of twelve. I perched on the edge of my seat as the hostess said, “Well, I think a lot of you scored high. Who had eight?”I raised my hand. I was the only one. I wasn’t sure if this meant that people had higher or lower scores. I pulled my hand back down and hesitantly said, “I, uh, had ten.””Ten!” Several people sounded impressed. Wow, so the four-kid advantage finally paid off.”Ten, well, you won,” the hostess said. I won? Hey, I won! Woo-hoo! And then she handed me a little bag–how about that? I won a prize, too!Of all the prizes I could have won, do you know what was beneath the tissue paper in that gift bag? You’ll never believe it. I laughed as I pulled it out.A book! I didn’t care what the title was, I knew I’d love it. (In case you’re curious, it’s called Humor for a Woman’s Heart.)Man, what a day. I savored that win. I think that because the game was all about words and poetry it mattered more to me. It was kind of a literary win. In fact, I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get them all right.That’s not going to happen again, though.Guess what I’m reading to The Boy at bedtime for the next few weeks?Well, we’re starting with:Peas porridge hot,peas porridge cold,peas porridge in a pot….
Karen Hossink says
Nine days old, isn’t it?
You got it! Should I send you the book that I won?
According to http://www.history-magazine.com, “they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes the stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while — hence the rhyme, ‘peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old.'”
Nine days old. Oh, darn, somebody beat me, but I KNEW it.
And yeah, Wednesday’s child — I knew that too. I was born on Wed. and always thought that was ridiculous to lay on a kid.
Mary, mom to many
Susan Ginn says
I was in the doc office yesterday with my newborn, Nathan. He was the only one I had with me and I must have looked like a new mom or something. Although I did have a new diaper bag and a new car seat cover. Two ladies said, “just you wait it, only gets harder.” I politely said, “this is my sixth child…well, actually my 26th” (I did elaborate and explain why I’ve had so many kids). You should have heard them exclaim. “OH! We don’t need to tell you then.” It was kinda funny to see their expressions. I’m curious, however, what kind of “energy” I was giving off if I looked like a new mom to them. I feel my age…close to 40 and tired, tired, tired!So I guess I should take a compliment any way I can get it, right?
Mary: You would have won. I know it. I would have nursed my punch in the corner on the ottoman repeating “woe, woe, woe is me” while you flipped happily through your book. But when I think about you as a Wednesday’s child, it sure doesn’t fit. You seem to have completely flipped around that “woe” thing in your life–maybe it should be “Wednesday’s child is full of wonder”?
Susan: Hey there! Good to see you, my friend, also a mother of many, like Mary in the comment above yours (you two should meet). You *do* look like a young mom. Tired, well, I don’t know. You usually look bright and content to me. But you’ve certainly got every reason to look tired if you did that day! I do like the thought of you being mistaken as a young mom with only a newborn. It couldn’t be farther from your reality, with your tent stretched wide to accommodate all that God gives you.
Loved your story! I’m not a huge fan of baby shower games, but when you actually win a cool prize you are secretly glad you participated 🙂 !
I am eagearly awaiting your post tomorrow!
And thanks for The Teaching Company’s Great Courses series tip. I will have to look into that.
In England a few years ago I was watching their version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” and a kindergarten (or maybe first grade) teacher missed on nursery rhymes. She even asked a fellow teacher…..
I thought it was very sad…..
Fiddledeedee (It Coulda' Been Worse) says
I would have failed miserably. I’m just awful at nursery rhymes. And I’m way too competetive. I would have been a very bad sport. I wonder why I never get any invitations to baby showers anymore???? 🙂
ordinarymom: Oh dear, I may have raised your expectations a little too high for tomorrow’s post! It’s not really that big of a deal. However, I set to work writing a copycat post to follow that one. I loved your lifelong learner dream-list and will give you full creative credit and a link.’
Lynn(Mom): Okay, now that’s really sad. Two teachers in *England*, the original setting for the peas porridge, couldn’t manage to come up with the answer? That’s like an American not being able to sing the Brady Bunch theme song or something.
Maybe it’s not like that at all. But I couldn’t think of an American equivalent to nursery rhymes right off the bat. Oh, wait, I know–it’s like an American not being able to say what Yankee Doodle stuck in his cap and then what he called it. How’s that?
Fiddledeedee: Things revved up during the second game. It was a Price Is Right spinoff–we were supposed to guess the cost of various baby items. I was terrible at that. I didn’t get a single one of them right, but I’ll bet you would have done great on that game. I don’t think you’re alone with your competitiveness. I noticed a lot of gleaming eyes and people covering their papers so others couldn’t see.