Pat-A-Cake, Pat-A-Cake, baker man. Bake me a cake as fast as you can. The same rhyme has been sung for generations, long before I was even learning it with my mom. It's a classic melody and set of gestures that entertains and awes babies all over.
I can't count the number of times I sang the song with my babies, or watched them as their grandparents played it out for them. For a while, that's what they did: watched the loving hands and listened to the lilting rhymes, until it came to the part where we sang about the baby or included their own name and they giggled as their eyes grew wider. Every time we performed the movements and the words, the reaction was the same: joy, awe, and surprise.
The repetitive nature of the verse made it simple to remember for both me and my babies. As soon as they learned to clap, they could follow along with me and pat my hands as I reached out for theirs. I would roll their squishy little arms together as we "rolled out the dough", use their dimply hands to pat it again and take their fingers to "mark it with a B" (or H, or I, or E, depending on which baby I was singing for at the time) always causing a belly laugh to erupt from their attentive little faces.
The best part, though, was the end. "Toss it in the oven for baby and me!" was the perfect line to allow for a celebration of that cake that we made together, to squeal and clap and cheer together.
And then when we were done, we'd start all over and make a brand new cake.
Image via CareyHope for istockphoto.com