Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Nursery rhymes...preparing you for your future!

I had a little nut tree,
Nothing it would bear,
But a silver nutmeg
And a golden pear.

The King of Spain's daughter
Came to visit me
And all for the sake
Of my little nut tree.

We know and sing a lot of nursery rhymes, and like me my Daughter will grow up with these words and tunes as part of her childhood. I hope that she will sing them with her children.

In and out the dusty bluebells
In and out the dusty bluebells
In and out the dusty bluebells
On this cold and frosty morning

Here we go round the mulberry bush
The mulberry bush, the mulberry bush
Here we go round the mulberry bush
On this cold and frosty morning.

But when you really listen to nursery rhymes they can be a little bit sinister...

Oranges and lemons ends with “Here comes a chopper to chop off your head” and Hush-a-bye baby puts a baby in a cradle in a tree top on a windy day. So inevitably the baby and cradle fall out the top of the tree!! Half a pound of tuppenny rice is the start of a shopping list that doesn't end well for the weasel. We sing these dressed up horror stories to our babies, without a passing thought.

Fairy tales that we read to them are not safe either, dogs rip apart foxes in Beatrix Potter (oh yes they do...what do you think the farm dogs did to the fox after it tried to kidnap a goose and its eggs?), Pooh bear doesn't have a healthy relationship with food, Cinderella is an abused step daughter that needs a man to rescue her, Sleeping Beauty is farmed off by her parents to three old childless women who have the task of raising her, Hansel and Gretel are put in an oven by an old lady, Little Red Riding hood is allowed to walk alone in a forrest full of rabid wolves... I could go on.

Why are our children's rhymes so full of horror and gore? Are we de-sensitising them for the trials to come? These rhymes and stories come from another age where perhaps they were good lessons of the trials to come. Perhaps it's time for more modern nursery rhymes to make an appearance? Perhaps not.

Our lives are sometimes full of trial and tribulation, but I hope for the sake of my Daughter that she faces them with strength and faith in herself. Unless of course it's a rabid wolf, to which point I hope she is very very well armed and a good shot.


  1. In these days life is much more dangerous than it was when the mentioned "horror" tales were written. As you said: "Little Red Riding hood is allowed to walk alone"... unthinkable today, but little children really used to walk and play on their own. We need the guidance of those old rhymes and fairy tales more than ever.

  2. Thanks for your wise words Mother G, I'm constantly amazed at the stories I know well and now read to my child. I hope she learns some of their lessons. Sarah