Buck, Buck Buck!
by Tina Blue
When my kids were little, I played all the "How does the kitty go?" "How does the donkey go?" "How does the chicken go?" games with them.
And, like most mothers, I also hummed "Brahm's Lullaby" as I rocked them to sleep.
For some unfathomable reason, my daughter Becky associated the lullaby with the sound the chicken makes, so no matter how many other animals she had imitated in the normal fashion, if you asked her, "Becky, how does the chicken go?" she would immediately stop whatever she was doing, her eyes would go all spacey, and standing in one place, she would rock stiff-legged back and forth from one foot to the other, singing to the tune of "Brahm's Lullaby," "Buck, buck, buck--Buck, buck, buck--Buck, buck, buck, buck, buck buck, buck. . . ."
We all got the biggest kick out of it.
And then one day it saved her life.
Some friends and I were having a large multifamily garage sale, and my sister Carol had come in from Olathe to join us. Carol did not often get a chance to see my children, so she was having a great time playing with them that day.
But people who have never run daycare homes play somewhat differently with children than those of us who do have that daycare experience. One thing I never do with small children is chase them. When we play that sort of game, they chase me. If you are responsible for the safety of a number of other people's children as well as your own, the last thing you want is to train them all to run away when you are trying to corral them.
It's not just a matter of convenience, either. I have seen quite a few close calls where children running playfully from their parents have nearly raced into the paths of moving cars. Watching a few such incidents is all it takes to make you leery of that particular game, especially when you have several kids to watch over.
But like most parents who have not witnessed such harrowing scenes, Carol, who had two children of her own, loved to chase little kids and make them squeal with delight as they attempted to elude capture.
The house we lived in at that time was awkwardly situated right on the corner of 23rd Street and Naismith, two of the busiest thoroughfares in Lawrence. Although ours was a residential street, high school and college kids would often come zooming off 23rd and onto Naismith, and then turn onto our street without even reducing speed.
Carol was playing chase that day with both of my kids, 18-month-old Becky and her three-year-old brother Michael, as well as her own three-year-old son Andy. They were chasing each other around the front yard, shrieking and giggling, having a wonderful time.
Then suddenly, as Carol grabbed Michael, Becky made a terrifyingly fast dash toward the street.
From where I stood on the porch I could see, with a mother's wide-angle vision, a car with a young driver zipping down Naismith and getting ready to turn onto our street. I could also tell that he had no intention of slowing down.
Becky was only a couple of feet from the street and still moving in that direction. In perhaps two seconds she would be in the street and the car would be upon her--and there was no way that Carol could possibly get to her in time.
Mother's instinct is a remarkable thing.
There was no thought involved: I screamed at the top of my lungs, "BECKY! HOW DOES THE CHICKEN GO?!"
She stopped dead in her tracks and began to rock back and forth, singing, "Buck, buck, buck--Buck, buck
buck . . ."--as the car whooshed by, so close that the wind it created lifted the skirt of the little pink sundress she was wearing.