Like most kids, we used to sing a lot of nursery rhymes when I was a youngster. These were just songs that were part of my early life. I don’t know how or where I learnt them, they were just catchy tunes imprinted on my brain. Being a young, innocent kid, you don’t really look for meaning in lyrics – you just repeat them. It wasn’t until I became a dad though that I looked at certain nursery rhymes in a different way.
Much like parenthood being littered with sexual innuendos, it would appear that nursery rhymes have a hidden meaning. When you try to dissect some of them, you’re greeted with a more sinister understanding of what they mean. Violence? Battery? Sexual assault? Attempted suicide? Murder?
Topics which wouldn’t be out of place on channels like Crime + Investigation, True Crime and Investigation Discovery – any guesses what I’ve recently been watching when Toddler L has her nap? I think most parents would agree that these aren’t topics that little brains should know about. However, this doesn’t stop scores of parents singing them as they happily clap along and try to get their kids to join in. That’s basically being an accomplice to murder.
If you don’t believe me, let me explain with some examples.
It’s Raining, It’s Pouring
It’s raining; it’s pouring.
The old man is snoring.
He went to bed and bumped his head,
And he couldn’t get up in the morning.
I may be reading this incorrectly – I’m not – but we’re basically singing about a pensioner who has suffered some kind of blunt force trauma to the head. Perhaps a mugging that went too far or an accident as he fell down the stairs? I’m no doctor, but I’d suggest that anybody with even a minor head injury should get it checked out, let alone somebody unable to get out of bed.
Here, we have a debilitated old man, lying in bed with symptoms like dizziness, nausea, unconsciousness, and most worryingly, probably a bleed on the brain. He needs hospital, but no-one is around to even notice. Perhaps he’s been screwed over by the Government and can no longer afford care? Maybe he’s one of the thousands of vulnerable people that we forget about as we live our lives?
Either way, this is a sad situation and one that I can only see ending in an unfortunate, lonely death. To rub salt in the wounds, we sing about this tragedy to our children, but switch the focus from the unlucky chap to the weather. For shame!
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.
Firstly, let me highlight the obvious. Nowhere does the nursery rhyme state that Humpty Dumpty is an anthropomorphic egg. Ever since we were young, we’ve been force-fed the image of this clumsy, gigantic egg falling off the wall and being smashed into hundreds of pieces. I don’t know what Mr Dumpty is – he could literally be anything – but the image is quite shocking regardless.
Assuming that he is actually something capable of breathing, moving and talking, a fall from a height is going to have caused serious damage. Depending on how he landed and from how high, he is very likely to have suffered broken bones, a serious head injury – like the old man above – and perhaps even paralysis. Worst case scenario, our alliteratively-named friend could be dead.
Either way, he should definitely be in the hospital being treated by doctors. The decision-making process throughout this story is littered with errors. Whoever failed to call 999 and chose instead to ask the king for assistance, really needs to look in the mirror. Similarly, the king – the great ruler of the land – didn’t call the ambulance either. He instead sent his men and their horses – YES, their horses – to administer life-saving treatment.
For me, it also raises questions about why he fell. A freak accident as he practiced parkour, or something more sinister? Did he jump in an attempt to take his life? Did he get pushed? The connotations are scary when you dig a little deeper. If, as adults, we don’t understand the story, why are we telling our kids about it?
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.
The nursery rhyme starts off well with some great intentions. We all know that it’s important to drink water and stay hydrated – a good message for our kiddies. Then it takes a dark – and unexpected – turn though. Without CCTV or witnesses, everything is open to speculation. All we really know is that two people went up a hill, and one – if not both – were injured on the way down.
I have two theories here. Firstly, they encountered someone who jumped them and attempted to dispose of the bodies by throwing them down the hill. Did they know the attacker or was it a stranger? We may never know. Secondly, it was Jill who attacked Jack, then attempted to cover it up by injuring herself afterwards. Either way, both are a particularly callous crime.
For Jack, I fear serious injury and a long road to recovery – multiple breaks, internal bruising and a fractured skull. Whether Jill ever faces charges, only time will tell. What I do know though, is that violence like this should not be uttered out of the mouths of babes.
Pretty compelling evidence that nursery rhymes are in fact nursery crimes, eh? Do any other nursery rhymes spring to mind that shouldn’t be suitable for kids? Let me know below!