Friday, July 4, 2008

Mairzy Doats by Milton Drake, Al Hoffman and Jerry Livingston

Mairzy Doats

Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey
A kiddley divey too, wooden shoe
If the words sound queer and funny to your ear,
A little bit jumbled and jivey,
Sing "Mares eat oats and does eat oats
And little lambs eat ivy."
--Milton Drake, Al Hoffman and Jerry Livingston

I picked this poem today because it's about not understanding the way someone talks (read on to see how that's relevant). It's actually a song, one my Dad used to sing to us all the time. This one often went with the "Oats Peas Beans and Barley Grow" song.

Interestingly, one of the people I had the most fun interacting with was Peter’s sister Kirsten. She has special needs, and because of the shape of her mouth among other things, she has trouble talking. This will come as no surprise to those that know and love her, but as I spend more time with her, I can interpret more of the sounds she makes as words (much as immediate family can interpret their own child’s baby talk), and by putting those words into the context of the conversation, they become thoughts and sentences that show that she has a good sense of humor, that she sees and hears and understands most of what’s going on around her, and wants to be included and make her own contribution.

It was honestly a little daunting when I first met her, but I knew that Peter loved her, and I loved him, so I smiled shyly at her and asked for interpretation when she tried to say something to me. I’ve gotten better at understanding over time, but on this trip though, things started to really click. I figured out that “Me too!” can have all sorts of meanings like, “It’s time for you to take my picture now.” or “I want to wear a crown made of a chain of clovers and be called a princess just like Elizabeth.” She had no trouble indicating that she was hungry and wanted to eat a banana RIGHT NOW each time she came into the house, or how funny it was when she ate the last one and there were “No Nanas” left. A single word, “Pink,” with some guesswork on our part, could communicate that she was upset that she didn’t have any pink socks. I, fortunately, DID have pink socks that I was willing to part with, and she was thrilled to be allowed to take the ruffled Strawberry Shortcake socks I offered, as well as the ones with Candy Corn that she also saw in the drawer. She wanted the rainbow socks with Cookie Monster too, but when I explained that they were my favorites, she understood, and said it was okay if I wanted to keep them.

I think my favorite moment with Kirsten was the day when we were sitting on the couch and Peter gave Elizabeth a squeaky kiss, which makes her laugh. Kirsten leaned over and gave Elizabeth a kiss, which made her laugh, and that made Kirsten laugh. So then for about five minutes, Kirsten kept giving Elizabeth kisses, and the two of them laughed. It was so sweet, I called everybody with a camera over to take pictures, and we got some really good ones.


  1. I remember once going back to Ohio for Christmas, and we all went to the airport to pick up Barb. On the way up Kirsten was telling me something in the car which Mom translated as a kid in nursery named July getting up on the table when he wasn't supposed to (somebody correct me if I'm wrong--it was a boy named July, yes? I don't actually know this child). Then after we picked up Barb and were on the way home again, Kirsten had to tell her about it. Barb said, "July got up on the table?" I asked, "How did you know that?" and she said, "Oh, I always know what Kirsten says!" It's a talent.

  2. Yeah for the simple pleasures of life, the kisses, cool socks, and understanding one another!!

  3. Wow, you've posted LOTS the past few days. Well said, and well pictured. (I still love the Queen Elizabeth picture!) You've come through a heck of a lot including having all of us there. We so appreciate it.

    There are times when I can't understand Kirsten either. Among other things she has mild Cerebral Palsy which affects her tongue. There are certain sounds that she just can't say. Barb grew up hearing "Kirstenese" so I guess that's why it comes easily for her. Sometimes I just have Kirsten write things down, but that doesn't always help because she's not a great speller either. ^_^

    Thank you sincerely, for being so kind to her, and to the rest of us.

    Love, Kathey

  4. One time Kirsten was trying to tell us something, I don't remember why, and kept writing down "giffer". Mom finally figured out she was talking about a giraffe. That was a relief. She's quite good at spelling things too, once you understand her letters, but usually adds an extra "O", so "pop" suddenly doesn't sound so appetizing.

    I'm so glad you're getting better at Kirstenese, and I'm also glad you don't mind parting with the occasional pair of socks. =) She really likes them.

    I love the pictures of kisses too.

  5. Hi...just wanted to add a little something to "Mairzy Doats"...

    The line is:

    A kiddley-divey-too
    Wouldn't you?

    Not "wooden shoe." :)

    Al Hoffman thanks you! :)