Saturday, April 17, 2010

Pushing and pulling and knocking towers down

One of our books features a Chinese nursery rhyme. It’s been translated into English, of course, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to read it, but it maintains the cutesy rhyme pattern and sing-song canter that makes a nursery rhyme a nursery rhyme. Rachel loves it.

It goes like this:

We push, we pull
To saw up the wood.
We pull, we push
We make a fine house.
We push, we pull
It has to be good
We pull, we push
To keep a sweet spouse.

Before Miriam, I thought this poem was a good poem. Now I am wondering if it holds any merit at all. It isn’t featured in many Western anthologies of nursery rhymes. In fact, the only mention of it that I can find anywhere in the great, vast internets is in a book called The Jade Bracelet, a novel (that I haven’t read) by Wilma Wall. Other than that, I can’t find any reference to the nursery rhyme anywhere.

Anywhere besides page 35 of the July 1995 issue of the Ladybug magazine, that is. Along with the poem there is an illustration of two kids sitting, facing each other, and holding one another’s hands, leading children and grown ups alike to imagine they are pushing and pulling each other like they are using some sort of callisthenic rowing machine.

Stupidly, I taught Rachel how to do this. It’s kind of fun…we chant the rhyme and push and pull on each other’s arms.

The only problem is that…well…now we have Miriam.

I find myself banning the singing of this poem several times a day now, primarily after Miriam has been ruthlessly thrust onto her face from sitting upright due to some exuberant pushing and pulling on Rachel’s part.

Rachel: We pull! We push! We make a fine house!


Miriam: Waaaaaa!

Me: Don’t do that! Rachel, you can’t push and pull your sister!

Rachel: But we is playing a game!

Miriam: Waaaaaaa!

Me: But Miriam doesn’t like the game! When you pull and push your sister it hurts her.

Rachel: But it is part of the game!

Miriam: Waaaaaaaaaaaa!

I completely understand why this poem isn’t included in any Mother Goose books. Lately it has been causing more problems in our house than it is worth, although I think in a few months, when Miriam isn’t quite so tipsy, it will be a lot more fun again.

Yesterday in church, our friend Tom gave a talk in church. Rachel was riveted. His talk was on how life is not fair (but that the atonement fixes everything in the end) and shared a story about life in his home when he was younger. He and his little sister would pull out the blocks and divide them up equally between themselves then they’d begin building their separate towers.

Being the incredible architect that he was as a child, Tom’s tower would, in addition to being quite sturdy, look amazing. His sister’s tower would collapse before his own since her skills weren’t quite up to par and then, he said, he’d have to be on his guard for her attempts to knock down his tower.

Rachel, who had been on the edge of her seat through the whole story, gravely nodded her head in agreement.

The moral of the story, of course, was that life isn’t fair—that our towers sometimes fall over. I am not sure that Rachel got that out of the story but I was happy to see her pay such close attention to what he was saying. She was soaking up every word.

It gives me hope that she’ll one day be able to sit through a whole day at school. Not that I’m ready for that yet…just that I sometimes used to wonder if she’d ever be able to sit still and listen for even two minutes. I now know that she can because that’s about how long Tom’s story lasted.

Don’t worry. She ignored the rest of his talk and instead pranced a toy pony around Andrew’s head and shoulders.

Still, it was nice to see her so focused while it lasted….


  1. David and I still think she will have trouble in school She is so smart that she will think it is so BORING.

  2. I agree with your mom! And don't be scared! She'll be fine as long as you fill her life with tons of anwers to her expectations... And don't hesitate to move her from school to school... We've been there!!!