I had the three-year-old right where I wanted her: eyes ablaze, staring indignantly back and forth between me and her bright red shirt.
I repeat myself cheerfully: “Yessiree, I just love your blue shirt!”
She can’t stand it. “Noooo!” she bursts out. “It’s not blue!”
“Oh?” I feign surprise, peer closer. She waits patiently, helpfully holding out the bottom of her red shirt so I can get a better look at the color. “Why, you’re right!” I exclaim. She looks relieved. “It’s green!”
I must have a mean streak, because I love doing that to kids. “Look at the horsey!” I say, pointing to the cow.
“I just love apples!” I announce, holding up a banana.
“Here are your shoes,” I say, approaching with their pajamas.
“Let’s eat some worms! What? I thought you liked worms! I put a whole bunch of juicy chopped-up worms in the eggs this morning – ”
“What sound does the cat make? I know! She goes, Woof! Woof!”
And I sit back and revel in their howling responses. I can keep it up for hours. It’s effortless.
“What? The cat goes meow? Oh! Right! Hey, don’t you love her purple fur?”
It’s not hard to find me. Just follow the trail of children wailing, “Noooooo!”
I was walking back from the river with my dogs, thinking about a pregnant friend and chuckling at all the torment in store for this poor kid.
“The dog says meow!” I thought to myself. “And honk goes the cow!”
I literally stopped in my tracks. Because it rhymed. How great is that?
A wicked little smile began to play around my lips.
A poem that messes with kids?
Oh yeah, baby. I can run with this one.
“Honk!” said the Cow
I could tell the day was strange because the puppy went, “Meow!”
“Woof!” said the donkey, and “Honk!” said the cow.
I couldn’t quite believe it when I very clearly heard
A loud and fearsome roaring from a teeny tiny bird!
Then a grizzly bear was chirping, and the silly feathered goose
Said “Ribbit!” – so I turned – and then “Quack!” went the moose!
I tried to ask the camel if he noticed something odd
When “Hoot!” said the hippo, and “Buzzzz!” went the hog!
I was gonna ask the otters, but then – right in front of me! –
Came “Oink!” from the elephants, and “Baaaaa!” from the bee!
“Tweet!” said the lion, and “Moooo!” went the hawk,
And the really tall giraffe let out a really noisy squawk!
Then the ostrich started barking and the porcupine went, “Caw!”
And the monkeys all said, “Cuckoo!” and the turtle went, “Hee haw!”
So I opened up my mouth to say: “Hey! There’s something wrong!”
When the rhinos and the caterpillars burst into song!
All the kangaroos were purring! All the beavers gave a cheep!
There was snorting from the foxes! I heard “Hissss!” from all the sheep!
I was baffled and befuddled! “Gobble gobble!” said the fly,
Then the horses started clucking, and the turkeys all said, “Hi!”
So I hurried to the owls, and they said – ’cause they’re so wise –
“Well, it’s possible you’re dreaming, so try opening your eyes!”
So I did – and saw my kitty – and my kitty said, “Meow!”
And “Woof!” said my puppy . . .
. . . . . and “Honk!” said the cow!