Children’s Lullabies and Nursery Rhymes are Fucked Up

Jack-and-Jill-nursery-rhymeEver since the birth of my son, things have been quiet here at Living with Balls. If I’m not working or taking care of my son, then I’ve probably been passed out from exhaustion somewhere in my house. That leaves little time to write anything. However, I’m determined to get this site going again.

In these first few months of raising my child, one of the more challenging aspects of caring for him, is getting him to go to sleep. Like many parents, I have resorted to singing lullabies or reciting nursery rhymes to calm him down.

I never gave much thought to the words of popular children’s songs and nursery rhymes when they were recited to me as a child. but now that I am singing them, it has occurred to me that many of them are FUCKED UP.

Let’s take a look at a few popular ones to show you what I mean.

Rock a Bye Baby
Rock-a-bye baby, in 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

First off, what the fuck is a cradle doing in a tree top? Just that opening line is a scary proposition to a young child. What kind of parents put their kids in tree tops? Are they high on crystal meth?

Then, of course, the inevitable happens. It gets windy outside and a branch breaks. And the closing of the song, which is intended to calm a baby down, describes the babies almost certain death as he or she comes crashing down to the ground. Sleep tight, Little One!

Ring Around the Rosie
Ring-a-round the rosie,
A pocket full of posies,
Ashes! Ashes!
We all fall down

Now there is some debate about the actual meaning of this song. But many believe it references the Great Plague, which occurred in England in 1685.

From wikipedia: “A rosy rash, they allege, was a symptom of the plague, and posies of herbs were carried as protection and to ward off the smell of the disease. Sneezing or coughing was a final fatal symptom, and “all fall down” was exactly what happened.”

The mention of ashes references the burning of bodies to help stop the spread of infection. Sounds like something I’d see in The Walking Dead!

The Itsy-Bitsy Spider
The itsy-bitsy spider
Climbed up the water spout
Down came the rain
And washed the spider out

Out came the sun
And dried up all the rain
And the itsy-bitsy spider
Climbed up the spout again

First off, why use a spider in a nursery rhyme? Most kids are afraid of spiders. Secondly, the story is kind of shitty. On one hand, you can describe it as a story of resilience. A spider is battered and bruised after being washed down the water spout. Yet he manages to pick himself up and go up the spout again. But on the other hand, this poor spider was enjoying his day when the rain comes and nearly drowns the poor thing. That’s also a scary message for a child.

Humpty Dumpty
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again

Humpty had a terrible fall and despite the best efforts of the King’s men and King’s horses, they could not save him. That’s a feel-good story!  I guess if anything, at least it teaches kids to be careful. Sitting on top of very high wall certainly wasn’t the wisest decision Humpty ever made. Especially for an egg.

Jack and Jill
Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water.
Jack fell down and broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after

So on the way back from getting water, (who gets water from a top of a hill by the way?) Jack slipped and fell and suffered severe brain trauma. At the very least, he is concussed. He probably also suffered a skull fracture and his life is now in jeopardy. Given the time when this nursery rhyme originated, medical technology was probably not advanced enough to save him. Sorry, boys and girls.  Jack is dead.  And because Jill came tumbling after, we can assume she also didn’t make it. Another awful children’s lullaby.

There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe
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 some broth without any bread;
Then whipped them all soundly and put them to bed

So a single mom, who is probably on welfare (based on the fact she lives in a fucking shoe!) and doesn’t know the meaning of the word contraception, starves her kids. Then when they complained about being hungry, she beat them until they went to sleep. Such a heartwarming tale!

Got any others you can think of? Write about it in the comment section!

2 comments for “Children’s Lullabies and Nursery Rhymes are Fucked Up

  1. Otter
    November 21, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    Regarding Humpty Dumpty:

    How the fuck do horses help put a freakin’ egg back together?


  2. monique
    June 2, 2016 at 4:17 pm

    i love this

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