I was thinking about nursery rhymes the other night when I was falling asleep. What, you don’t do that? You just fall asleep like you don’t have a CARE in the WORLD? Well, it sure must be nice to be you, all carefree. Like a little fluffy cloud. Aren’t you the cutest little fluffy cloud? Well, fluffy cloud, SOME of us are in bed MULLING for a while before we fall asleep. About THINGS. What things? Different things. This and that. One of which, the other night, happened to be nursery rhymes. I know. Don’t bother trying to figure out my brain. It takes what it wants. It’s the honey badger of brains.
Mostly I was thinking how weird and screwed up nursery rhymes are. Some are weird and some don’t make any logical sense at ALL and some are DOWNRIGHT SCARY. And we tell them to our children! Our poor children.
When I was a wee Amy, one night, my mom said the following nursery rhyme/bedtime fable/prayer (or whatever you would call it) to my brother, who was probably 3 or so:
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
If I shall die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
I guess this is a prayer. Because of the repeated use of the word LORD. I would assume my mother was doing evening prayers of some sort with him? That was a thing we used to do. It is not a thing I still do. I would highly doubt it is a thing he does anymore, either. BECAUSE OF THE TRAUMA.
Anyway, my room was right across the hall from his, so I was able to hear him wailing.
“I DON’T WANT TO DIE BEFORE I WAKE!” he was crying. “If I fall asleep, I’m going to DIE? GOD’S going to come? And take me AWAY? I don’t want to GO! I don’t want to DIE!”
And then he didn’t want to fall asleep for like a month.
These are the things we tell our children when they fall asleep. This one’s a prayer, I would assume, but nursery rhymes are equally as weird and bad.
Let’s look at some nursery rhymes and try to figure out what the hell is happening in the world.
Bye Baby Bunting
The point of this rhyme: to explain to a weeping child why he or she has an absentee father. Also, when he comes back, he’s bringing serial-killer gifts.
Bye baby bunting
Daddy’s gone a’hunting
Gone to fetch a rabbit skin
To wrap the baby bunting in
So, if your baby’s crying, you sing them this song, to explain where daddy went? And where IS Daddy? Daddy’s gone out hunting. He’s going to bring home rabbit skins. To wrap you up in. I’m from the country, so I’m aware that you can’t just skin an animal and it’s ready for use. It takes time. So if Daddy were walking in the door with rabbit skins, they’d be freshly-pulled-off-the-bunny, and all bloody, and they’d be all filled with bunny-smell and probably bullet-holes. Well, I guess, unless he snared them or something. I don’t know how your daddy hunts. My guess? Daddy left Mommy and she’s making this up to make you stop crying, Baby Bunting. Get ready for years of Mommy’s bringing home another “uncle” who pretends to be all buddy-buddy with you until he and Mommy get in a fight, then you never see him again. And then years of therapy, kiddo. Bet you wished you had that rabbit skin now, right? All that softness’d be a comfort, dealing with your separation anxiety.
Ding Dong Bell
The point of this rhyme: to point out which children in your community are budding psychopaths. Also, maybe euphemism; Ken’d know.
Ding dong bell
Pussy’s in the well
Who put her in?
Little Johnny Flynn
Who pulled her out?
Little Tommy Stout
What a naughty boy was that
Trying to drown poor pussycat
Who ne’er did any harm
But killed all the mice
In Farmer’s barn!
Well, Johnny Flynn. I’m pretty sure your future trajectory is this: pulling the wings off flies, kitten-murder, puppy-burning, stabbing your classmates, kidnapping indigents and stringing them up in a lean-to in the forest and cutting them up to see what they look like under their skin. Johnny Flynn, you need some intense therapy, and perhaps to be institutionalized. Tommy Stout saved the kitten, so Tommy Stout’s an outstanding citizen and will probably marry happily and have some upstanding little Stout children and all will be well in Stoutville.
How did Tommy Stout get a cat out of a well? Wells are deep. Did he use the bucket? Did someone lower him down in? How’d he even know there was a cat in a well, did that little future serial killer Johnny Flynn brag it all up? “I put a cat in a well to see if it would float; turns out, it doesn’t?”
Also, anything with “pussy” in it is most likely a euphemism. Ken would be able to tell you for sure, but I don’t think it’s an accident. I mean, whoever wrote it might TELL you it’s just the way they used to say kitten, but I think it’d be a total and complete lie.
This is a cautionary tale couched as a nursery rhyme. Also, I read online that Shakespeare mentioned this tale in his work. Aw! Ol’ Bill! I like that. Bill knew about pussies in wells. Bill knew about euphemisms, I can tell you that right now. He was the KING of euphemism. Even more than KEN.
The point of this rhyme: eh, something to do with British royalty or some such nonsense, but really, I think it’s a cautionary tale about a playground-style rapey sneaky fucker.
Georgie Porgie puddin’ and pie,
kissed the girls and made them cry.
When the boys came out to play,
Georgie Porgie ran away.
Ignore the fact that research tells me this is about some weirdo Duke of Buckingham who had all the affairs and concentrate on what’s going on here. What the hell’s “puddin’ and pie?” Stupid, is what. Does he EAT puddin’ and pie, or carry AROUND puddin’ and pie, like to lure the lay-deez, or what the hell? Puddin’ and pie. That’s a silly thing to call anyone.
Also, if you’re kissing girls and then they’re CRYING, well, Georgie, THEY DON’T WANT THAT. They don’t WANT you to be kissing them. That’s SEXUAL HARRASSMENT, bub. Unwanted sexual advances. STOP THAT, you little bastard.
Then the boys come out (so I’m assuming this all happened on the playground or some such nonsense) and that little chickenshit RAN AWAY. I assume this is because he was about to get his ass thoroughly handed to him by the boys for being a sneaky fucker. And for being rapey. Maybe Georgie Porgie is Johnny Flynn’s equally effed-up brother.
I don’t know that there’s any reason at all to recite this to your children. Is it a cautionary tale? If so, for whom? The girls? To stay away from boys who want to go too fast too soon? Or to sneaky fuckers, to run away when someone who might be bigger than them shows up?
Rock a Bye Baby
The point of this rhyme: Why you puttin’ your babies up in trees, yo? NOT AT ALL SAFE.
Rock a bye baby on the treetop,
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock,
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall,
And down will come baby, cradle and all.
Really? I’m thinking that putting your child in a CRADLE in a TREE and relying on the WIND to rock him or her is…um…not at all the best decision you’ve ever made? What’s left out of his rhyme is “Then the baby is DEAD and there will be an INQUEST and you will go to PRISON and require a shit-ton of THERAPY and also you will forever and always be known as the lady who put her baby in a tree. FOREVER AND ALWAYS.”
Alternates to putting your baby in a tree:
- putting your baby in a cradle safely placed on the ground
- putting your baby in a cradle safely placed in a room indoors
- putting your baby in a carseat in a car (as long as you’re IN the car and it’s RUNNING, not, like, left at the curb in the sun or anything)
- holding your baby
- leaving your baby with a certified child-care provider
- NOT PUTTING YOUR BABY IN A TREE
Also, no need to be singing this one to a baby. It’s just going to scare them that someday, when they’re least expecting it, you’re going to leave them in a damn TREE, and the WIND will MURDER THEM. Also, your neglect.
If you’re going to read your children something scary, just read them one of Grimm’s Fairy Tales? At least they’re also beautiful. And they don’t warp you TOO bad. I mean, look at me! I was raised on a healthy dose of fairy tales and I’m…um…yeah. Maybe keep your kids away from ALL MEDIA FOREVER AND EVER.
Or someday your kids will put you in a pumpkin, or a shoe, or, shit, I don’t know, let the wind knock your ass out of a tree. And who would be to blame? No one but you, really. NO ONE BUT YOU.