Mother Goose, Have You Lost Your Mind?
We are all familiar with Mother Goose. Though an imaginary figure, she still seems to be responsible for the multitude of inappropriate fairy tales and nursery rhymes.
I always wondered how mothers sang some of these rhymes to their children. The same mother who made sure that the movies their children were watching were suitable for their ages, did not put any thought into nursery rhymes. Because they are so popular and accepted, everyone assumes that they are deemed as safe and appropriate.
We gave our title over to a Goose. We left it for her to decide what is okay for our children. Not even a regular bird, but one who wears a bonnet. Nice. What great parents we are.
Did you ever sit back and listen to your little boy or girl as they danced around chanting about the London plague that killed 70,000 residents. If you did not, start listening.
Ring a-round the rosie
A pocket full of posie
We all fall down!
How did that ever sound innocent to you, even without the translation.
Well, here it goes; There was a rose (“Rosie“)colored rash that was the first symptom of the plague. ‘Posies‘ was the medicines and herbs that people carried in their pockets to prevent them from getting the plague. “Ashes”, well that is pretty self-explanatory. Then they all fell down and died. Lovely.
Oh, there is another version that they say “Achoo! Achoo! We all fall down”. That would be referring to their last sneeze. Even better, no?
You would think you can dismiss it as the one crazy one. No. If I would write them all out, this post would take me days. But a few, I can.
Don’t think children are too young to notice the meanings of the rhymes. I was not the brightest, and even I wondered about this one;
- Rock-a-by baby
- On the tree top,
- When the wind blows
- The cradle will rock.
- When the bough breaks,
- The cradle will fall,
- Down tumbles baby,
- Cradle and all.
Is there a reason why the baby had to fall from the tree. Did it live? Even after it fell, if it did live, did the cradle crash down and kill it? Seriously.
After some research, it came to my attention that this poem was of the first poems written on American soil. A Pilgrim saw how the Indians hung their babies from the branches of the trees and perhaps was concerned for their safety.
Listen, Pilgrim, these Indians were managing just fine before you came around. Worry about the turkey you will have slaughtered over the next many years. Oh wait, and also maybe worry about the homeless families from whom you stole land and claimed as your own. Or the many you killed, and the small pox you plagued them with.
So cute. A sweet little cocoon-ed baby swinging on the tree so happily. Can’t you picture it? Graco wasn’t around yet. Leave them be.
“Rub-a-dub-dub, three men in a tub,“ What the heck were three men doing together in a tub? “Twas enough to make the fish stare.” For those who don’t know, that was the last verse of the rhyme. Really now, even the fish stared? It was so inappropriate, kids, let’s sing all about it.
Fee! Fie! Foe! Fum!
I smell the blood of an Englishman.
Be he ‘live, or be he dead,
I’ll grind his bones to make my bread.
Children, we really don’t like the English. Whatever, you won’t understand. Old grudge. Anyhow, this is how we would like you to treat them. Let us breed hatred.
Georgie Porgie, puddin’ and pie,
Kissed the girls and made them cry.
When the boys came out to play,
Georgie Porgie ran away.
Boys, in case you did not pester the girls enough, this is about a guy who harassed and still became famous. Prince Regent, was affectionate and immoral and became George IV in England. Don’t you worry, keep going at it, you can still make it to the top.
Props to my mom, she never let us sing “I am a pretty little Dutch girl.“ One of the versions of this rhyme ends with the chant of “K-I-S-S-I-N-G, First comes love, Then comes marriage, Then comes a baby in the baby carriage.“ I am happy to say this may have saved several people from babies out-of-wedlock. We found a positive point buried within a pile of far more unsuitable ones.
So “Jack, be nimble, Jack, be quick, Jack jump over the candlestick,” was one I found to be unsafe to children. Why was there someone telling a kid to jump over a flame? Then I read the end, which should have been sung to me too, “Jack jumped high, Jack jumped low, Jack jumped over, and burned his toe.” Ah. That is the consequence I would like to teach to my children. So we found a good one.
“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.”
Kids, they tried, but just couldn’t fix him. I am sorry it is not a ‘happily ever after’ rhyme. He is broken for good. I know this is just a metaphor for a cannon, but the illustrations show this cute little egg that had to tumble to pieces. Poor thing. Why couldn’t they just make it like it was. Then it would be a story from our history instead of a heap of shattered shells.
During the English civil war, in 1648, there was a canon that the people mounted on top of a church to protect themselves from a siege. The top of the tower was hit and the canon (Humpty Dumpty) fell down and broke. The infantry and cavalry (Kings horses, and Kings men) all tried to fix it, but could not. Nothing wrong with a little history. We need a new illustrator.
Jack and Jill. Another tragic one. Poor things went up to fetch a pail of water and it ended in disaster. They just came tumbling down and one of them broke his head. Sad…
Kids, this is why we invented faucets. You are safe. Don’t you worry.
This one, as well, has some historical background. It is a about someone’s uphill battle (aim for peace) and his eventual failure. But who would ever know.
Last but not least, a favorite in my house, “It’s raining. It’s pouring.” Call me crazy, but I hate when the kids sing this song. I try so hard to sidetrack them into a safer nursery rhyme to prevent future questions. What happened to the man in the morning? He banged his head so hard, it left him unconscious? Or did he die?
It’s only a matter of time. I hear the questions they ask already as toddlers… I’m in BIG trouble.
Parents, censor your child’s “nursery” rhymes because Mother Goose DEFINITELY did not.
[List of nursery rhymes and information taken from Here]