Hippopotamus for Christmas
Gabriella watched the clock as she waited for the minute hand to strike the six, making the time 2:30 in the afternoon. She sipped a cup of hot cocoa as she awaited the sound of footsteps outside of her door and the cheerful voice of the one whom she had been expecting calling out her name. Tick, tick, tick. She started to get up from her spot on her favorite reclining chair when the door flew open and a shriek reverberated throughout the house."MOMMY!"Gabriella put down her mug and ran to the door where her young daughter was standing in the doorway with a face rosey from cold and excitement. When the girl saw her mother, she flung her arms open wide for a big hug saying, "Mommy, I get to be in the Christmas show!" Gabriella hugged her daughter, kissed her cheek and shut the door."Is that so?" She asked, barely able to hide the excitement in her own eyes."Yes. I'm going to sing a song all by myself," her daughter announced proudly.
At the age of seven, Elana Evans had proved to have a beautiful and strong singing voice that could only improve with age. Gabriella did not find it surprising at all that Elli, as she was nicknamed, would be first choice for a solo. As she helped her daughter out of her winter dressings, Gabriella inquired, "What song did you get?"Elli thought for a moment, for she had forgotten the title in all of her excitement. "Um... Hippopotamus for Christmas.""I don't know that one. Can you sing it for me?"Elli shook her head No. "I don't know the words, but Mrs. Klein gave me a cd and the words to the song to take home." Now, free from her outerwear, Elli opened her backpack and retrieved the aforementioned items, handing them to her mother. Gabriella scanned the lyrics and decided that they should listen to it right away to become familiar with the song.
It wasn't long before Ryan came home to his daughter struggling with a song about hippopotamuses and, in good humour, he walked into the living room to see his wife and daughter looking very frustrated. After a pause and a breath, Elli started a line over again that had tripped her up."Don't want a doll or dinky Tinker Toy. I want a hippopotamus to play with and destroy."Ryan chuckled, then immediately covered his mouth. It was too late though, he had been spotted, and would surely be reprimanded."Daddy, don't laugh!" Elli demanded with a stomp of her foot. "I'm trying."Ryan appologized most sincerely and sat next to his wife on the couch. "What are we singing?" he asked sweetly, giving Gabriella a hug."Hippopotamus for Christmas. Elli has to sing it for the Christmas show at school," his wife explained."Ah." Ryan looked at the paper her hands. "And these are the lyrics?" Nods from both girls assured him he was correct. He chuckled again. "Elli, the line is 'play with and enjoy'. Not destroy."Elli sighed and tried again.
They went on like this for hours, breaking only for dinner and homework, and again the next morning and afterschool. The Evans work ethic obviously had not lost it's power. It was not that the song was long, only difficult. The rhyming of long words like hippopotamus with just as long words like rhinoceros was not easy for a seven year old to master in a short time.
Once again, Ryan came home to Gabriella and Elli singing the same song that had been playing in his head all day. He greeted them with hugs and kisses and offered to help if he could. Gabriella gave her husband a withering look and said quite seriously, "I never thought I'd be teaching my daughter to use improper grammar."Ryan chuckled. "What do you mean?"She pointed to the last chorus in which the words were slightly altered to, perhaps, imply even more that this was a child singing. The line read: 'No crocodiles or rhinoceroseses. I only like hippopotamuseses.' It was even difficult for Ryan to sing such deliberate excessive pluralization. He looked up at his daughter and set his shoulders with determination. They were almost finished, and the they'd only have to worry about choreography."Ok, Elli. One more time." Ryan anticipated this being a very long December.