I performed at my friend's son's one-year birthday party yesterday. This is the party where I told my friend beforehand that I would tell stories and sing songs in exchange for two pies. "Even though I've done plenty of young-toddler programs, I've never performed at a birthday party for a one-year-old," I told her. "So, you get a program for practically free, and I get to use your son as a guinea pig." There were a few children in the 3-5 year range (my daughter among them), and I planned the program to span the different ages. Here was my program:
Song with finger-puppets: "When Ducks Wake Up in the Morning"
Story with hand-motions: The Key to the Kingdom
Song with flannel-board figures: “Fly Through My Window”
Story with finger-puppets: Up the Hill and Down the Hill
Song with fold-out accordion book: Nancy Stewart's “Five Little Dragons”
Dance song: “There Ain’t No Bugs On Me”
Story with song: The Crickets, by Arnold Lobel
End song: “The Swing” (words by Robert Louis Stevenson)
Here's what the one-year-old found most riveting about the entire program:
Yes, my green water-bottle was the high point of the show. Even though I had hidden it behind a little curtain, the one-year-and-under set found it again and again. I had a nasty cold (still do), so I felt the need to be particularly vigilant.
The Five Little Dragons song by Nancy Stewart (to the tune of "Five Little Ducks Went Out to Play") was an offering in concession to not playing "Puff the Magic Dragon," which was my friend's original request. Technically, I could have played the song for the gathering because I wasn't getting paid, but there's no way it would have been performance-ready in time for the party. I promised my friend we could bring it out for an informal sing-along at a later time.
What I didn't tell her was that I didn't actually like the song very much. I know it's supposed to be about the end of childhood innocence, but even after all these years, I still resent Little Jackie Papers. He abandoned his loyal friend Puff! What a stinker. Maybe Jackie Papers grew up, but he could have come by Puff's cave once in awhile to read to him or play a game of Parcheesi. Obviously, Jackie Papers had never experienced the fun of cool babysitters. By the by, the song was not written with marijuana in mind. I appreciate what co-writer Peter Yarrow said in an interview: "When 'Puff' was written, I was too innocent to know about drugs. What kind of meanspirited SOB would write a children's song with a covert drug message?" You tell 'em, Mr. Yarrow.