nursery rhymes, or excuse me, what?

I talked a big game pre-birthing a child, as in “I’ll only eat organic, gluten free fare when I’m pregnant” and “I would never feed my baby HFCS or junk food” and “no TV ever” and “I’ll be sure my baby’s library is carefully curated”…..

And after 16+ months, I’m taking a moment to stop and realize how freaking weird so many nursery rhymes and children’s stories are that I’m reading to my child! Think about it!

jack and the beanstalk

I’m reading the story of Jack and the Beanstalk to A, and it’s all, “kid gets swindled by seedy (ha) character into selling a cow for 5 seeds at market. Mom throws a hissy fit and throws the beans out the window, prompting them to grow overnight into a beanstalk that hits the clouds. Kid climbs this miraculously fast-growing beanstalk (where was his mother?) and a creepy giant almost killed him while he stole the giant’s prized possessions. Then he kills the giant when he gets to the bottom first and chops down said beanstalk. So little ones, gather ’round and hear the moral of the story: take what isn’t yours and you’ll be fiiiiiine.

And where’s Jack and the Beanstalk 2? Where this dumb-dumb kid gets swindled out of the talking harp and before long he and his mother are again destitute?

I am having some trouble finding a concise (read: one paragraph) explanation of this and other nursery rhymes/stories we tell our children, but people are too wordy and share too many potential meanings. Nursery rhyme exegesis is a thing, y’all. A thing for people who clearly don’t have toddlers and thus have gobs of time on their hands to pontificate. GIVE ME NAMES, people. I need a short lesson on what the metaphors are.

As in, Humpty Dumpty is about King Richard II, yes? And Ring Around the Rosies is about the Bubonic Plague, yes? Maybe not. And why do we all sing the “ashes, ashes” verse of that strange song?! The other verses are way more chill, says Snopes.

Over to Jack and Jill. We sing about two little kids having to go uphill to get some water (let that sink in for a second. Makes no sense unless they’re scaling up the side of a MOUNTAIN to get to a spring), Jack’s HEAD BREAKS OPEN, and Jill follows suit. FOR WHAT PURPOSE? First off, water is usually gathered down low, not up a hill, amiright? The best interpretation I found is this: King Charles I wanted taxes increased on liquor and Parliament refused. Then he tried to get the volume of a Jack (1/2 pint) to be reduced, but to keep the tax the same. Ok fine. And there’s that crown emblem on the half pint glasses. Broke crown, got it, I guess. And as a result of the Jack volume “falling down,” the volume of a “gill” (1/4) pint or “Jill” decreased, too. So gather ’round again, children, and hear about some hard liquor volume woes. (Source: Wikipedia that references this book I am adding to my Library List!)

And Pop Goes the Weasel? What is that? It has absolutely nothing to do with the weasel animal! So strange.

And don’t get me started on people’s attempts to write “good” children’s books that are immensely lam. I think I’m going to start making up new stories that go with the pictures in A’s books… will this slow my daughter’s development?! Maybe. Keep me from losing it? Yes. Yes it will.

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