As a child, I used to ask my mother to “tell me a story about when she was little” frequently. My memory still holds a space for these stories. The images I created as I drifted to sleep and she told me about playing by the lake with her older friends still exist in my memory.

When she wasn’t telling me childhood stories at bedtime, she would read AA Milne to my brother and I. I hear her voice rise approaching an exclamation mark and her tone lower to depict a change of character, as I silently read the poems from When We Were Young today. Once, I asked her what her favorite poem was:

Rice Pudding

 

What is the matter with Mary Jane?
She's crying with all her might and main,
And she won't eat her dinner - rice pudding again -
What is the matter with Mary Jane?

What is the matter with Mary Jane?
I've promised her dolls and a daisy-chain,
And a book about animals - all in vain -
What is the matter with Mary Jane?

What is the matter with Mary Jane?
She's perfectly well, and she hasn't a pain;
But, look at her, now she's beginning again! -
What is the matter with Mary Jane?

What is the matter with Mary Jane?
I've promised her sweets and a ride in the train,
And I've begged her to stop for a bit and explain -
What is the matter with Mary Jane?

What is the matter with Mary Jane?
She's perfectly well and she hasn't a pain,
And it's lovely rice pudding for dinner again!
What is the matter with Mary Jane?

 

Real-life foreshadowing, at its finest. I was seven or eight when I asked that question, and remembered the answer for life.

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