Nursery Rhyme Time

Nursing Baby

Dear Genevieve,

Since we had you, your father and I have been on the hunt for music that we can play to you. Something that we are both happy to listen to but that is a bit more kid friendly because Tim Minchin isn’t really appropriate. Brilliant but not really appropriate. And we’re getting sick of Tony Bennet’s In The Playground. Sparky and I have rather different approaches towards this endeavor however.

Your father has gone and raided the library for all the Putamayo CDs that they have. You now have things like lullabies sung in Gaelic, Rubber Duckie in Chinese, Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport in Danish and a number of French songs from which I can pick out isolated words and your father wouldn’t have a clue. I must say I find this amusing as your dad used to kick up a stink when I put on my German CDs that he doesn’t understand either although I do.

My approach conversely, has been to find my old Play School and children’s LPs and to pull out all my Disney albums and stick them on an MP3 player for you. I have also checked out the library’s stash of Nursery Rhyme CDs which I have, ahem, copied for you as well. And I play them for you when your dad is not around because apparently he doesn’t classify them as “music”. I think this is a little unfair although I was listening to some of the rhymes the other day and thought you could argue they are an interesting interpretation of appropriate.

Take Ring A Ring ‘O Roses. A popular children’s rhyme…about the black plague. It describes, albeit somewhat disguised, people contracting a fatal illness and then dying. Cheerful, huh. Then there is See Saw Marjorie Daw. This is apparently about a prostitute. And it let’s kids know you’ll never amount to anything in this world if you’re slow. Or you’ll be poor which for some is the same thing. But those rhymes only have a subtext which may be considered disturbing for children. They’re not really in your face.

On the other hand, Ladybird Ladybird is just depressing. The message “fly away home – your house is on fire, your children all flown” is hardly a happy one although I suppose it’s better than your children are gone. Slightly less depressing is the Old Grey Mare who “ain’t what she used to be many long years ago”. So ok, this nursery rhyme isn’t bad, it’s just I’m not sure we need educate infants that as you get elderly you start to lose your faculties. Young kids don’t yet even have some of the abilities they will later lose.

And then we come to the nursery rhymes that are inane or just plain annoying. The Bear Went Over The Mountain for example is like a bad knock knock joke or that classic, “why did the chicken cross the road?”. He went over to see what he could see and all he saw was the other side of the mountain. Awesome. Great story. Glad I know that. Just like I am glad that the horn on the bus goes beep beep beep ALL the way to town. Because that’s fun. Which is probably partly why my friend made up new lyrics so now the Irish on the bus go glug, glug, bleargh. Although, that’s more funny for the song than it would be “fun”. At least the “bleargh” part.

So it will be interesting to see what music you like when we can understand your preferences. Until then, you’re stuck with what we give you. Just promise me you’re not going to turn into one of those Hi-5 kids because I don’t think either your father or I could stomach that.

Bis dann,


* I would credit the image if I had the faintest idea of who owned it


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