I don't know how it came up exactly—we were just driving to tennis lessons and chatting as we always do. The kids were asking really hard questions about things I didn't know the answers to (Note to self: must install voice-activated search engine in dashboard of car so can Google while driving)… and having heard, "Hmm, I don't know," a few too many times… my son changed the subject and said, "I liked that poem Dad told us about the man with a fork."
"Um, what poem was that?"
"You know, the man with a fork… and something about pie."
"Ah!" I said. And promptly recited the whole limerick. Which, when summarised goes like this: Dude from Cork, comes to earth on fork, lands in pie, does die, and so on.
I was quite pleased I remembered it, and the kids were impressed (finally!). Then I said, "You know, Dad didn't make up that poem."
"No, it's an old limerick."
"What's a limerick?"
And we were off and running. I told them the basic structure, and then made up terrible, I mean really terrible, limericks as examples.
There was a pretty good one about a cow and a whale, and some not very good ones about a man named Bob. Then the kids made up really silly ones about grass and…then we got to tennis. And I forgot all about limericks.
Until tonight at the kids' bedtime.
My son had minutes earlier been really distressed about a thought he'd had just before sleep (my kids suffer regular angst at night, as in: "a feeling of deep anxiety or dread, typically an unfocused one about the human condition or the state of the world in general", but we get through it).
As I was talking him down, talking him into calm, he said suddenly,
"Oh, I thought of a limerick, Mum. Do you want to hear it?"
"Sure," I said. (Not phased at all, I might add: I am used to strange and lovely mind shifts in my kids).
So, in his sweet voice my son recited,
"There once was a man named Robin,
Who lived in a shiny toboggan.
But it was too small,
So he went to the Mall,
And bought a bigger toboggan."
"Cool," I said.
Which it was. It really was.