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Old MacDonald had it all

Archie’s bedtime wishes are simple. He wants a sippy cup of water. He wants his spaceman blankie. He wants to be sent off to dreamland thinking of Old MacDonald and his sunny, happy, well-populated farm.

On the best of nights, it only takes around 7 animals to get Archie to sleep. Usually, we start with the old standards: cow, horse, sheep, dog, cat, duck, pig. Moo, neigh, baa, woof, meow, quack, oink.

Then there are nights when Archie isn’t quite ready for bed. He could still be a little wound up from running around or maybe a tickle-fight. Old MacDonald’s farm acquires some acreage. His business expands to include farming geese, chickens, goats and perhaps a few wild animals like lions and bunnies and owls.

Thankfully rare are the nights when you learn Old MacDonald’s first name. It is, apparently, Noah.

On these nights, Archie fights sleep. His brain won’t swat away the day’s events, triumphs, indignities. A few nights ago, he had one of those nights. I still sang.

Old MacDonald had a farm. E-I-E-I-O. And on his farm he had a…

…cow, horse, dog, sheep, cat, duck, pig, lion, goose, bunny, goat, chicken, worm, jellyfish, bear, dinosaur, hippo, rhino, giraffe, seal, puffin, penguin, polar bear, parrot, snake, turtle, goldfish, shark, dragon, kangaroo, ostrich, llama, spider, weasel, deer, wolverine, tiger, elephant, zebra, ladybug, bee, butterfly, antelope, hyena, gorilla, monkey, orangutan, flamingo, eagle, trout, baby, firetruck, piano, telephone, and another dog.

I could see his eyes were closed. I stopped singing to see if he protested. He didn’t, but I didn’t want to leave his side. I wanted to wait until his sleep was a little deeper so he wouldn’t notice my exit.

How wonderful to be at a point in your life when a simple song is enough to lull and quiet. Being challenged to think of animals and their noises was quieting for me, too. Declaring that Old MacDonald has an orangutan forced me to think quickly. It crowded out the other cares of the day.

As I sat in the dark room, lit only by the blue glow of the moon-shaped nightlight, I confronted life distilled to its purest form. It was what sages and philosophers lived for: Questions expressed with no agenda, no pre-conceived notions. The question is the answer. There, you are dangerously close to defining the meaning of life.

What does an orangutan say?

4 comments to Old MacDonald had it all

  • Jenn

    Archie and Ethan would get along wonderfully. 🙂 I remember many of our farms have included llamas, giraffes, gorillas, and haha – flamingos. What does a flamingo say? 😉 We really should plan a get together soon. Your clan could come see our chickens! LOL.

    • Gretchen von Lifenut

      Prepare your chickens. Give them extra feed. Maybe sing to them. Then we’ll come. My kids would LOVE to see your chickens…and you! 🙂

  • Don’t mind me… I claim little Archie, he is wonderful and any post about him brings a tear to my eyes – I remember him from before he was born!!! I had a moment of sheer sadness tonight when it occurred to me that the night time ritual of lying in bed beside little people as they drift off to sleep won’t last forever… How often have I wished them to dash to sleep and now it occurs to me to treasure it so much more!!! Our old macdonald has a fleet of vehicles: helicopters, trucks, even ships… in fact anything that makes a sound is on that farm!!!! Sleep well!!!

  • We’ve had that same problem with Old MacDonald at our house…what does a turtle say? A giraffe? A fish?

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