11 October, 2011

Georgie, Jack, and The Ladybug

I've been thinking about those nursery rhymes we teach our children - the ones we get excited over when they recite them back to us. I know they are not ready for Eliot or Poe or Angelou, but why not A Child's Garden of Verses? Let's look at a few of these rhymes.

      Ladybug! Ladybug! Fly away home.
      Your house is on fire and your children all gone.
      All except one, and that's Ann,
      for she has crept under the frying pan.

Really! Well, ladybugs don't have houses. And what kind of mother is she if she's out traipsing around without knowing where her children are? And, come on, UNDER the frying pan!? That's just suicidal. I really do fear for our future if this is what we're teaching our children.

      Jack be nimble.
      Jack be quick.
      Jack jump over
      The candlestick.

Do tell! What's the big deal here? Are we supposed to be impressed by Jack's athletic prowess? Most candlesticks are small and easily jumped. Of course, if the candles were lit, that's a different matter, but it's still not exactly Jackass: The Movie now is it? I say why tempt them in the first place. They don't need to be encouraged.

      Mary had a little lamb.
      Its fleece was white as snow.
      And everywhere that Mary went,
      the lamb was sure to go.

That's just freaky. Would you like it if some farm animal began following you everywhere? I don't think so. What if Mary has to go to the necessary?

      Little Boy Blue come blow your horn.
      The sheep's in the meadow, the cow's in the corn.

But would Mary's lamb come? That remains to be seen, but it is an empirical question. Maybe that would be a way for the teacher to get the livestock out of the classroom. On second thought, that's no good because Blue Boy there is "under a haystack fast asleep." If Blue's late to the scene, I think he should have to clean up anything the sheep leave behind.

      Little Bo Peep has lost her sheep
      And doesn't know where to find them.
      Leave them alone, and they'll come home,
      Bringing their tails behind them.

I suppose they might but maybe not. Or, maybe she should just find Mary. There seems to be a positive correlation between her and the presence of the most ovine among us, and we already know Blue's no help. I have to say I am more than a little concerned about this focus on farm animals. It's just not natural - not in today's world.

      Georgie Porgie pudding and pie,
      Kissed the girls and made them cry.

I say bully for him. At least he's not molesting the sheep.

      Little Jack Horner sat in the corner
      Eating his Christmas pie.
      He put in his thumb, pulled out a plum,
      And said, "What a good boy am I!"

Oh, dear. Pie again. You know, if he's old enough to feed himself, he's old enough to use utensils. I suppose, however, I should be happy it's just his thumb. In the 1999 film American Pie it wasn't Christmas, and it wasn't a thumb.

So, dear readers, I fear for our children, and they are our future. We simply have to do better.