Beck Rudick: Listen to the Little One (De Hes de Kleine)

Whenever my mother was delighted with “her baby” (meaning me), she would say in Yiddish, “De hes de Kleine.” In English, it translates into the proud declaration: “Listen to the little one.” After saying it, she either flashed a loving smile or else she uttered a joyful laugh.

My mother had the ability to elevate me to great heights at such times, but she also embarrassed me as a teen when she introduced me to all as “her baby.” It was not until I had my own baby that I understood the love you feel for your children, a baby in particular.

When my own teenage children came of age, I better understood a teen’s need for identity and the embarrassment a dad could cause. My kids eventually returned home, but my mother is long gone. The house was strangely quiet when she died, and I wondered if the hole I felt in my heart would ever heal. It did.

Decades later, I still hear her voice in my head: “Ian!” she’d shout. “I’m in the bathroom,” I’d invariably reply. I can remember her calling out to me to listen to everyone, especially to the little ones who society has devalued as lesser people. I too wish to “de has de Kleinen,” and in so doing, elevate all. Thank you, Mom, I love you and I miss you.

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Dites-Moi by Rogers and Hammerstein from South Pacific

 La vie est belle

 La vie est gai

 Chere Mad’moiselle,

Est-ce que
 Parce que
 Vous m’aimez?

Tell me
 Life is beautiful?

Tell me
 Life is gay?

Tell me
 Dear Miss?

Is it
 You love me?

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