The other day I was putting the girls to bed. I was busy wrestling Lydia to the floor in an effort to stuff her flailing octopus body into a set of pink pajamas, so I wasn’t paying attention to Clara as she stood quietly in the closet with her back to the room. She was apparently preparing for something. She had this planned. She was patiently waiting for me to finish my struggle before she began.
Finally, after I had defeated the baby kraken, I turned towards Clara and started to ask her to climb into bed. But before I even got half a word out of my mouth, she suddenly spun in a circle and started dancing in the most peculiar way. Her whole body was bobbing up and down and her arms pumped in the air like she was trying to climb on top of some invisible horse and repeatedly failing. And she was singing.
Now, Clara is always singing. She sings church songs, and kid’s songs, and camp songs, and cartoon theme songs, and commercial jingles. She sings to the neighbors when we are out in the yard, and she sings to strangers in the grocery store, and to her protesting sister in the back of the car, and to herself when no one else is around. She sings. She sings Carole King, and the Beatles, Frank Sinatra, jazz, pop, rock, modern, classic, opera, musicals, everything. She just loves to sing. But this was different. This singing was new.
Her cadence was rhythmic and patterned. There was a strange repeated tumbling flow. Her lyrics were obviously improvised, random strings of words about a girl and bedtime, and most of the words were completely made up in order to force rhymes at key moments at the ends of phrases.
I tilted my head and watched this bizarre exotic dancing bird progress through its nonsensical routine, her arms shooting into the air in small explosions and her legs skipping in place. Finally I had to interrupt.
“Excuse me Clara.” I said gently. She stopped. “I’m sorry to interrupt you, but are you rapping?”
She stood, mid bob, and looked at me with genuine confusion. As if she was a tiny mirror reflecting my own bewilderment. After a long pause, she said, “Maybe. I don’t know what ‘rapping’ means.”
“Well, where did you learn to do that?” I asked, pointing randomly at her feet and then her hands and then just around in a circle.
She shrugged. “It just happened.”
I returned to Lydia, who I suddenly realized was no longer next to me. She had apparently squirmed her way under the bed while I was distracted. Grabbing her by an exposed ankle I pulled her into the light and lifted her back vertical.
“Okay Lydia. Run and go potty quick and then come back to bed.”
As her sister scampered out the door Clara started bobbing around the room again, “Lydia should go potty, or else she is naughty. Her bottom will get tangled…” she paused and stared up at the ceiling trying to think of a word to rhyme with ‘tangled’.
I quickly jumped back in. “Okay, thank you Clara. I think that is enough of that for tonight.”
I like to think that what I witnessed was my daughter spontaneously inventing rap music. That it just sprung from her head like some sort of mystical Athena, and I was present for its magical birth. You know what they say about one million monkeys eventually writing Shakespeare and all that. Maybe this little monkey just found her muse. I would have hoped for something more like Shakespeare, but who am I to question her gift?