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The Lion Sleeps Tonight

Jose Vilson Jose Leave a Comment

The only way to shock my son out of his crying spurts is to sing the first big note in “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” I hit the highest falsetto possible, then jump right into the first few notes of the melody. Naturally, I forget the majority of the verses of the song, but by then, he’s bubbly, feet kicking and eyes forming crescents in form with his smile.

Lately, I’ve been teaching my son how to roar.

No, really.

I thought of it after putting him in his rocking chair and noticing how he gravitated towards the lion. Without fail, he sought the orange and yellow figurine just above him, and that almost certainly signals fancy, if not an outright connection with that being. He’s learned how to growl back and smile while doing it. He’s learned to use different intonations to change the sound. He’s learned to use his lips and neck to emphasize what he’s doing. He looks to me to approve, and I usually do.

Important is the boy’s roar as he gets older and things get more difficult. He’ll encounter innumerable difficulties, many of them not of his own doing. People may not be as receptive to him as they did when he bumrushed the world two months ago. He may get hurt.

All of this is OK; he’ll have his inner roar. A few hours ago, his father enacted the roar in a situation he normally wouldn’t. While his father probably won’t do it again, just the knowledge that he has it might make the people remember it’s there. The sound might reverberate through the walls, the shaking only stopping when his father puts his hands on the surfaces. Once his father let out the roar, he goes back to an unwound mix of teacher smiling and serious face.

For now, my son just needs to know that he has the roar, with or without the mane that straddles my chin. Tonight the cub sleeps with nary a sound to interrupt him while the lion and the lioness watch over. It’s one of the few times I prefer he not be heard.

Jose, who might actually get the hang of blogging again …

About Jose Vilson

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist. For more of my writing, buy my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, on sale now.

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