Nursery Rhymin’

I have been thinking a lot about nursery rhymes lately. Here are a few questions I ask the windshield as I drive Kohlrabi to daycare:

  • Why are they so outdated?
  • Why do they all follow the same set of mind-numbing tunes?
  • Doesn’t that push our child’s developing brain into a box?
  • Why are some of these rhymes so darn misogynistic?

My husband would probably roll his eyes. To him, these are not major worries that are involved in bringing up a child. I am more of an observer of the society. I worry a lot about the impression this world is going to make on her. If you are my friend on Facebook, you might have come across a rant I posted a week ago about Hickory Dickory Dock. If not here it is:

On one of Aarabhi’s drive-time nursery rhymes CDs, at the end of Hickory Dickory Doc:
Boy- Look! A mouse.
A bunch of girls- *In their shrillest voice* Eeeekkk!
Aarabhi tries to imitate them (or just trying to express her frustration too)
Way to go, world, with the wonderful concept of gender stereotyping! Catch them young and you will be fine but catch ‘em in their car seat and you are golden!

Why must children’s media producers feel the need to make a bunch of girls scream at a imaginary mouse a boy found near the non-existent clock? Do I want to teach my child stereotypes? Do I want her to be scared of mice? Honestly, I’d rather bring up my daughter with the curiosity to ask me questions about a mouse (Where does it live? What does it eat? Is it scared of us cruel people? Does it know that a group of humans are expected to be scare of it?) than jump on to a chair and expect me to carry her after that.

Hey, if she develops a natural fear, without the influence of a stupid cd, I can make peace with it. This brings me to the second rhyme. I first heard “Where are you going, my pretty maid?” on an audio tape that belonged to my nephew (who is now 18yrs old). Here is the story for the uninitiated: A random nobleman (obviously) randomly solicits a “commoner” and asks her random questions about where she is going, like she doesn’t get enough of that from her father and probably a little from her brothers too. He asks her who her father is and horrifically, he digs into how much money she has to her name.

Who does that? And why is that considered that okay? But this girl, you’ve got to give it to her, she is spunky. She says her father is a farmer and that her face is her fortune! The dude says that he cannot marry her since she is a poor old mouse who thinks she can get by with her looks. The last part of this rhyme has always made me go “you go, girl!” about it. She says no one asked him to marry her.

Snubbed, right? I would say so! Why can they not make more rhymes like this? It is misogynistic, I agree. But the girl at least is sensible and has a mouth on her. She pretty much asked this man to go shove his probable ring up his fat privileged a$$. I find that cool… and unusual for a nursery rhyme from the yore.

We should probably start taking a long-hard look at our nursery rhymes and update ‘em and update ‘em good! It might not matter much in the passing since children grow up and do what they do. I am aware that ultimately, how we bring them up is really what goes a long way. But sitting in the car and listening to a mama trying to bribe her baby into sleep by promises of little winged pets and precious jewelry is driving me cuckoo every blighting day!!

Am I taking this too seriously?

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7 thoughts on “Nursery Rhymin’

  1. Vaish…hee hee.. I did my lil’ reasearch on nursery rhymes and boy! most of them are like for adults :D Jack and Jill is about 2 run aways, with Jill getting pregnant and Jack dying? Humpty dmpty is about a war? Ring around the rosies about plague…phhbbttt…and there’re a few like you have said above..about pretty maidens and men checking them out? and we’re teaching them to our kids happily.

    • Lavs, your comment made me laugh and stare at my screen in horror at the same time :D What on earth was with these people from the Victorian (I want to say?) era and such A-rated topics for rhymes?!

  2. Hi Vaish,
    Anjana here. How strange that I too started a second blog dedicated to writing!
    I totally agree with you. I’ve learned that most nursery rhymes were sort of cautionary tales spun long ago. Ring around the rosy refers to the great plague and all…
    One interesting thing I’ve noted is Boy’s pre-school here skips most of the ‘traditional’ rhymes. They don’t even have Jack & Jill. I wonder if the school is trying to make a change…hmmm…or is that me expecting much?!

    • Wow! Here is to writing, Anjana! And I have started following you now :)
      It is strange and a welcome move, this whole boycott of traditional rhymes. They *probably* are making a change. Let us hope they are!!

      • Thanks Vaish!
        It is a welcome move. But sadly, having been brought up listening to those mostly British rhymes, I am at a loss when it comes to some of the more modern ones. Never heard of Barney before! I find myself googling them just so I can sing along with Boy!
        Thanks for the follow too. Let’s hope I stick with my resolution ;)

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