b Papa Dog's Blog: Starry Starry Night

Papa Dog's Blog

A Thing Wherein I Infrequently Write Some Stuff

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Starry Starry Night

Somewhere or other – a Christmas gift from Big Sister? – can’t remember – we got this Baby Einstein book, See How I Feel which is about Vincent, a critter of some sort –a goat, maybe? – who has feelings and is not shy about expressing them. Vincent has a brother named Theo and a best friend named Paul. He likes to paint pictures, and is very excited to paint the sunflowers when they bloom. He does a portrait of his friend the postman. He also, for unexplained reasons, has a bandage on one ear. Are you getting all this? I hope I don’t have to paint you a picture, because I’m no Van Gogh.

Anyway, Baby Dog has taken a liking to this book, and particularly to one page where Vincent experiences a starry night. Baby Dog surprised me recently by saying, in reference to that page, “Starry starry night.” As you may know, that’s the title of Don McLean’s seemingly endless love poem to Vincent Van Gogh. It turns out that the entire song has been wedged in my memory since I was a teenager, and I sang it to Baby Dog a few times when she was much smaller. I don’t know if she dredged up a memory of that or if I made some chance comment, but she did seem to know it referred to a song. She said “Starry starry night” at bedtime the other night, and I took that as a request. Good choice. It lulled her right to sleep.

Babies like their routines, though, and we’ve definitely settled into one with bedtime. The same three songs have been on the night-night jukebox for longer than I can remember: two from John Prine (“Souvenirs” and “Diamonds in the Rough”) and one from The Clancy Brothers (“The Parting Glass”). Always the same three songs, always the same order. I don’t know why those songs do the trick; they just do.

Last night, as we sat down for night-night songs, Baby Dog said, enquiringly, “Starry Starry Night?” Gamely, I sang to her about the starry night and the palette painted blue and grey and the flaming flowers that brightly blaze, and I contemplated McLean’s Deepest Thought: “I could have told you, Vincent, this world was never meant for one as beautiful as you.” “Bosh!” thought I. “This world was meant for Baby Dog, and she’s ten times as beautiful as that grotty old paint-eating Dutchman. Three-quarters of the way through the song, these reveries were interrupted by Baby Dog saying, “Night-night songs? Night-night songs?” I stopped. “You want to hear the regular night-night songs?” I asked. She didn’t answer, which often means yes (when it doesn’t mean no). I shrugged, willing to take any reasonable requests, and started in on “Souvenirs.” She went into her sleep sack at the tail end of “The Parting Glass,” just as usual.

Tonight when we sat down in the rocking chair, she again said, “Starry starry night?” “Okay,” I said, a little more warily this time. I got all of three lines in when she said “Regular night-night songs?” So we switched over to those.

Now I’m starting to wonder if all along she’s simply been commenting on the night sky, and has been too polite to interrupt me when I start singing that sappy painter song.


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