Thursday, January 06, 2011

Nursery Rhyme Horrors

In a futile effort to calm Avery down one night, I pulled Mother Goose's Nursery Rhymes off the shelf to recite to him.  Even if he had calmed down at the sound of me reading, if he had been able to comprehend the words I was saying, he surely would have started sobbing in complete horror.  How did I not know how vicious and horrible nursery rhymes are?

Ladybird, Ladybird, fly away home
Your house is on fire and your children are gone
All except one and that's little Ann
And she has crept under the warming pan 

Is this a sick joke someone is playing on Ladybird?  First off, your house is on fire, so all of your possessions are destroyed.  Next, your children have disappeared, we can only hope to safety.  BUT, little Ann has taken refuge under the warming pan, surely to be burned to a crisp alive if she doesn't mercifully die from smoke inhalation first.

Oh where, oh where has my little dog gone
Oh where, oh where can he be?
With his ears cut short and his tail cut long
Oh where, oh where can he be?

I'll tell you where your freaking dog is, narrator.  He's run the fuck away from you because you mutilate his ears and his tail.  Probably one of those horrible show dog owners who clip their dog's vocal cords so they don't bark.  It happens, people.  Horrible.

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe
She had so many children, she didn't know what to do
She gave them broth without any bread
She whipped them all soundly and put them to bed

You don't know what to do, old woman?  How about having your tubes tied or buying condoms?  That'll stop the child flow.  That's much easier than your standard fare of starving them by giving them no carbs or beating them until they fall asleep.

Tom, tom, the piper's son stole a pig and away he run
The pig was eat, and Tom was beat
And Tom went howling down the street.

I actually don't mind this one too much.  Sure, it's about beating kids, but you can't have your kids running around stealing livestock.  Tom deserved that beating.

Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater had a wife and couldn't keep her
He put her in a pumpkin shell and there he kept her very well

First, this Peter fellow is known as one who eats pumpkins.  So, that's weird.  And he couldn't "keep" his wife, which probably means that she did weird things like have opinions or want to vote.  What do you do with a crazy woman like that?  Stuff her in some produce.  But don't worry, she's kept very well.  That'll show her.

And there are a plethora of others also involving animal mutilation.  Three blind mice get their tails cut off with a carving knife.  As if being legally blind isn't hard enough for a mouse, the poor things probably run all sideways now because their tail helps them with balance.  And the last stanza of Little Bo Peep involves her finding her sheep, but they've left their tails behind them, making her heart bleed.  Seriously, it says her heart bleeds.  So, she's got a bunch of tail-less sheep running around, which has to be kinda messy.  She'll never be able to sell those suckers.

So, I'll be reading these to Avery until he understands words and then this book is going to be chucked out of the window.  I'd almost like him to listen to Glenn Beck than this crap.  Almost.


Cindy said...

You'll have to learn the meaning behind all the rhymes and teach Avery those...although they aren't usually better. For instance, Three Blind Mice is about some bishops who were executed by Queen Mary I of England (who was called, "The Farmer's Wife"). The bishops were all burned at the stake rather than beheaded. See, not better than cutting off their tails. I just found this book, which might be helpful.


Jenn said...

Haha wait until you start to get into all the Brothers Grimm fairytales...those were all written as cautionary tales to scare the crap out of young children. Thank God Disney beauties 'em up. lol

But the original fairytales are gruesome and terrifying.

Rebekah said...

There are some that are not as gruesome, but remember culture birth control was not available and poverty was a very real thing. Houses burned easily and writing about what we think of as horrible things means we are not as desensitized to it as children had to be.

Also look up frank baums short stories based on these stories in the Gutenberg books. (the man behind oz) he also wrote a series of father goose rhymes.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the one about the dog is bad. I think it just means the dog has short ears and a long tail. I don't think anyone actually cut them. Of course, I could be wrong.

I remember when I was much younger, I was aware that nursery rhymes were mostly unrealistic in the present time. I'm just making this up here, but maybe they're even useful for kids. Maybe it will help them cope when they eventually learn that really bad things do happen in the world.