Bear with me here. When you have a baby, whether you like it or not, nursery rhymes and lullabies become a regular part of your daily life. Flies in buttermilk and old women that perhaps might die aside, my task of singing lullabies and nursery rhymes to my daughter has been complicated by adding another language/culture/country to the repertoire. Some of the time I get by with singing songs by Queen or the Red Hot Chili Peppers in funny tones, but sometimes, when the going gets tough, I have to break out the infantile chants of strange fairy tales and long-forgotten customs. And when the going gets really tough (read three pajama changes in one night, leaving the house without a bottle/baby food at feeding time, vaccination-induced fever, etc.), I have to break out the local, Spanish-language tunes…(somehow the Spanish songs have a superior calming effect than the English-language ones…the reason for this is up for grabs? Anyone?)
So I stumble and stutter through them. I’ve done internet searches, I’ve paid close attention to my Suegra (Mother-in-law), my nanny, and the “older” women on the street. I get the tunes, I mix the lyrics, and I throw in some quirky improvisations. And through my research, I am baffled by one song in particular. The CincoLobitos. Five little wolves. Oh yes, five of them. Little, fuzzy wolves with pointy snouts and beady eyes. This song goes with a hand gesture–opening up the five fingers of one hand and moving the wrist as if screwing in a light bulb. The hand gesture is always the same. The lyrics, however, differ greatly from one Spanish person to the next. Here are some of the variations I’ve captured:
Cinco lobitos detras de la loba, cinco lobitos debajo de la cola. (Translation: Five little wolves behind the mama wolf, five little wolves, underneath her tail). Weird. No comment.
Cinco lobitos detras de la loba, cinco lobitos debajo de la alcoba. (Translation: Five little wolves behind the mama wolf, five little wolves under the bedchamber). I consider myself VERY fluent in Spanish. I even know obsolete terms from past colloquial times including economato and manolete. I know the lyrics to the National Anthem (hehe, little private joke with Spanish people – let’s see who catches this), entire Camilo Sexto songs, random engineering terms, surgical instruments, local sayings, all swear words, the names of all the players of the Spanish soccer team and some aeronautical emergency landing gear vocabulary. I am a professional translator, don’t front. I dream in Spanish, and when I stub my toe, I swear in Spanish. When I have road rage, oh yes, its in Spanish. And….I had to look the word alcoba up. Bedchamber. Hm. This doesn’t make sense.
Cinco lobitos detras de la loba, cinco lobitos usando la escoba. (Translation: Five little wolves behind the mama wolf, five little wolves using the broom). Child labor laws? These don’t apply to baby animals? After slavery was abolished, maybe baby wolves were used to complete housework?
Cinco lobitos detras de la loba, cinco lobitos conduciendo un eskoda. (Translation: Five little wolves behind the mama wolf, five little wolves driving a Skoda). Spaniards pronounce any word starting with S as ES, hence Skoda is Eskoda and rhymes with loba. Škoda is actually a Czech car brand…you haven’t heard of them? That answers your questions. Nothing remarkable.
And then there’s Shakira with her she-wolf song (about a she-wolf coming out of a closet and wanting a domesticated he-wolf)….with some very strange choreography and wardrobe action going on…maybe some kind of modern mating call that I don’t understand because I’m already married?
And another version that I think I understand even better about an old woman in a cage:
And finally, sometimes it sounds like:
Cinco globitos detras de la globa, cinco globitos debajo de la alfombra. (Translation: Five little balloons behind the she-balloon, five little balloons underneath the rug).
Note: I will always remember this post as the ink from those five little wolf faces drawn on my fingers has now stained my q, w, a, shift, r and t keys on my keyboard. Collateral damage.