I never see a zebra that I don’t view as a “horse in striped pajamas”. This song was part of my childhood and sung by my family all the time. “Look there daddy, do you see? There’s a horse in striped pajamas…”
And NO ONE else knew it. None of our friends. Either then, or now. I’m embarrassed at the number of times I’ve subjected friends and coworkers to my “singing voice” in the attempt to find SOMEONE who knows the song besides us. Then the other day, I Googled it. Just the words “horse in striped pajamas”. And there it was!
I found a version by Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Green Jeans and another by Eddie Arnold and his daughter. So even if I haven’t found them, I KNOW there are people out there who’ve heard the song. I won’t admit to how many times I’ve played it over the past few days, but will say it’s been such a joy!
Probably ten years or so at Christmas, when the family was all together, someone brought up the song. Someone started it and then all five of us kids were singing as were dad and mom. It was off key, and some mumbled through areas of forgotten words. It was loud and filled with laughter. Looking back, it was one of the most connected moments I’ve ever felt to my family. We reminisce in my family – a lot. We tell stories and kid around, and it’s a good close time. But there was something so singular and spontaneous about us all singing that simple song. At that moment, we weren’t married, we didn’t have kids, we hadn’t all grown up and gone on with our lives, separate from mom, dad and each other. We were just the Wood clan. Mom, Dad, Craig, Keith, Brooke, Darcey and Amy. It was nice.
There was one other song that my family sang. Well, I honesty, my mom sang it mostly. Standing by your bedside in the morning, she would sing “Birdie with a yellow bill, hopped upon my window sill. Cocked a shiny eye and said, aren’t you awake you sleepy head’? We moaned. We groaned. And yet we loved it. Or grew to love it. How could you not love it you’re your always chipper and happy mom wakes you up with a little song in your ear?
And again, upon Googling, I find it’s actually a poem, titled Time to Rise, by Robert Louise Stevenson. A poem. That my mother put to music. Not surprising, and a revelation to me to find I fell in love with my first poem long before I thought I did.
And we all sang Birdie with a yellow bill. We sang it in mocking fun to each other over the years. And when we started having children, we sang it to them. They moaned and groaned just like we did and it is my fervent hope that they will sing it to their children as well. If they don’t, well that’s a shame.
I know Abram grew up hearing both songs, and if the blessing of having children enters his life, I feel confident he will. And if he doesn’t, I’ll be waiting in the wings with my “singing voice” ready.