Have you ever wondered about the origins of seemingly nonsensical nursery rhymes?
Ring around the rosie,
A pocket full of posies,
Ashes, ashes, we all fall down!
Why in the world do we teach young children these simplistic poems when we don’t even know what they are talking about? Are they clues to some hidden meaning or are their histories long past memory?
In this shortish, informative article by Clemency Burton-Hill, I learned that many nursery rhymes were at one time veiled records of current events. It’s fascinating, and helps to view these children’s poems in a closer light.
But why are they children’s poems? Are they fit for children? The Victorians certainly didn’t think so, and began the campaign to clean the rhymes up. Okay, I’m grateful for that. I’d much rather my young’uns babbling fun repetitive sounds than knowingly reciting tales of torture techniques geared for male genitals. I’m convinced of the educative quality of children learning soothing sounds and rhythms.
But I got to thinking about how ‘shocked’ we are to learn of the real meanings that lie behind these mysterious sing-songs. It was dealing with the world as they knew it at the time, only later being ‘sanitized’ for society. We live in a much more decent world, our children are much more innocent… Or are they? Our world contains much violence today. School shootings, child molestation, human trafficking. However, what worries me more than these issues is what they learn in the home little on up from those nearest to them. Broken homes, where mom’s had three boyfriends in the past month. If dad’s in the picture, he’s never grown up himself and spends his waking time playing violent video games or watching adult “cartoons” that spew forth 4 letter (and 3 letter) words. “Mother”; “It”; “hotdogs and buns”… And we’re shocked over Rock a Bye Baby?
No, I’m not stressed over wool tax. I’m worried about the little boy who lives down the lane, who grows up in a world where his dad was busy texting during his first steps and his mom can’t decide whether or not to give him up for adoption because she spends part of her time in jail. He doesn’t get to be read or sung nursery rhymes. It’s heartbreaking, and it’s not just little Danny. His story is a common epidemic!
Yes– clean up the content for the little ones, but let’s not forget about the overall home we’re raising our kids in. Is it mentally, spiritually, emotionally clean and healthy? Ultimately, the only way for this to be possible is for the people in the home to be rooted in the love of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Eventually, there’s only so much we can protect our kids from. We do not live in bubbles forever, and it’s important to remember history from those who came before. People from long ago passed their experiences down to us in rhymes. What will we pass down?