It’s 7:15pm and Lyon leans in for a kiss. Jojo is in a good mood, easily puckering up for her dad, and says, “Bye-bye, Dadda.” Off he goes out the front door, and off she goes too, standing up precariously in her high chair so that I have to rush to catch her and set her down. She runs to the window and watches Lyon get in the car and drive off, describing what she’s seeing. Words are flying out of her mouth but they are mostly unintelligible except for baila (dance), fuera (out), coche (car). She knows her dad is leaving to play a gig. For now, she uses the word baila interchangeably to mean both “dance'” and “music”. Music and dancing for her go hand in hand, as it should for us all.
Throughout her bedtime routine, which involves a bath with her toy patos (ducks) and peces (fish), a cup of milk, some free play, and then teeth-brushing she chants, “No nigh’, nigh’?” But by the end of the last book, going “night, night” doesn’t sound like such a bad idea to her.
As I move towards the iPad we keep in her room for music she says, “vacola?” and I know that she’s requesting the song “La Vaca Lola.” It’s a bouncy, catchy cumbia whose lyrics are made up entirely of “La vaca Lola, la vaca Lola, tiene cabeza y tiene cola y hace moooooo,” and that’s it. The lyrics just repeat over and over, but it’s fabulous. It’s not exactly in her nighttime playlist but I can never think of a reason not to play this one song that she loves so much. And tonight goes like this:
Me: “¿Quieres escuchar ‘La Vaca Lola’ (you want to listen to ‘La Vaca Lola’)?”
Me: “Okay, podemos escuchar ‘La Vaca Lola’ una vez y despues te pongo las canciones de night, night.” (Okay, we can listen to La Vaca Loca one time and then I’m playing your night, night songs.)
The song plays and Bilingual Baby says, “¿Baila Jojo (Dance Jojo)?”
Me “¿Quieres bajar para bailar (Do you want to get down to dance)?” I ask her.
So I put her down and she reaches up and says, “¿mano (hand)?” So we take hands and moments before bed we are dancing the cumbia to a song about a cow at top volume and laughing and smiling. It’s only 20 seconds of this before she stops and reaches her arms up to me. I pick her up and she puts her head down heavily on my chest. “Nigh’, nigh,‘” she says.
¿Quieres tus canciones de night, night?”
So I switch to her bedtime playlist, and she has one more little request I’m always glad to abide.
“¿Siéntate mama (Sit down, mama?)?” I repeat it to her in order to clarify what she’s asking.
“Si,” she says, pointing to the rocking chair.
And we snuggle our way to sleep, her face buried in my chest, me rocking in the dark with her songs playing in the background. Eventually, when she’s grown uncomfortable in my arms, she says “nigh’, nigh'” one more time and reaches for her crib. I stand up and lower her slowly down onto her stomach so that she can tuck her arms underneath and wriggle around until sleep has come.
Ninety percent of her life she has been a joy to put to bed. I hope we keep this for as long as possible.