Annie tries to act like she’s too-cool for me, but I often catch her casually imitating me. Repeating words I say or sounds I make, twirling sections of her hair, biting her pinky like I do when I’m thinking. Last night I left the room for a minute, and when I came back she’d taken over my spot on the couch, even covering herself with my blanket. “Mama’s chair! Mama’s blanket!” she squealed gleefully when she saw me. “Mama, come sit,” she said, patting the spot next to her.

When I snuggled up next to her on the couch she said, “Mama, read Annie a story!” I’d already settled in, so I told her a few stories I knew from memory (Rapunzel, Beauty and the Beast, Pretty Woman). Then she said, “OK Mama, princess song now.” I sang her a few songs from Disney movies, and she sang along to the ones she knew, carefully moving her hands the same way I did. I loved it. I loved that she was pressed against me, head on my chest, happy. And imitating me, obviously.

After hearing “again” a few times (An encore? Don’t mind if I do!), she said, “Mama, sing toy song,” and then tried to sing a few unintelligible words. After some back and forth (“What toy song?” “Garbled Baby Talk toy song!”) I suddenly realized what she was asking. “Annie, do you want me to sing, “When I Bring You Colored Toys?” “YES! TOY SONG!” This is a song I learned a million years ago (in high school) when I was studying for a Certificate of Merit in voice. It’s a song I have no business singing now, it has a bunch of high notes and is all fancy. So, I sing it in the shower, the place where everyone is an excellent singer. That means Annie is listening to me even when I think I’m alone. That’s some advanced Santa Claus-level spying, man. I bet she knows my ATM pin code, too.

I sang her the toy song and it didn’t sound anywhere as good as it does in the shower, but Annie still clapped and said, “pretty, mama!” She did NOT ask me to sing it again, though.

singing my songs
I’m calling from inside the house!