Save the Nursery Rhyme!

Currently, there are no children in my house either old enough or young enough for nursery rhymes, yet children’s books too numerous to count fill the bottom shelves of my bookcase. So imagine my distress when I read an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer that parents are no longer reading nursery rhymes to their children.

“Too scary,” began the comments from parents.

“Annoying”

“Too rhymey.” (No, really?)

Maybe I am alone in my thinking but knowing Humpty Dumpty fell down, broke his crown and all the king’s men couldn’t do a damn thing about it, really didn’t ruin my childhood, or my children’s.

For that matter, regardless of Jack’s weak-footing, I never feared I would go tumbling down and break my crown.

And Little Miss Muffet? I honestly believe if someone suffers from arachnophobia, it has little to do with her particular case.

Nursery rhymes are a part of childhood and are no more “violent,” (one parent’s description, not mine) than television, movies, the Internet, video games, Halloween, coal in your stocking, or, actual reality. We can shield our children as best we can from the horrors of life, but even they can distinguish the difference between the death of “Cock Robin” and the death of a loved one.

Nursery rhymes are merely nonsensical songs to them, ones they can feel pride in memorizing. It’s the very fact that they are “rhymey” that makes them easy to remember. “Georgie Porgie,” “Goosey Goosey Gander,” “Sticks and Stones,” at an early age, titles such as these help us form speech, sing, recognize rhyming, and connect to others who know the exact same words.

Fine, you may choose not to read: “Now I lay me down to sleep…If I shall die before I wake. I pray the Lord my soul to take.” (As my daughter just told me: “Mom, some nursery rhymes ARE actually disturbing.”)

But “Jack Sprat?” He couldn’t eat fat. His wife couldn’t eat lean. So between the two of them they licked the plate clean. Hmmm. A valuable lesson on cholesterol, obesity, nutrition, waste, sustainability, recycling, marriage, compromise, health, sharing, and so on.

Growing up I was never upset by the old woman who had so many children, she didn’t know what to do so she gave them some broth without any bread and then whipped them all soundly and put them to bed. Well, I suppose I may have been if I knew any families living in shoes. But I didn’t.

If we as parents and grandparents stop sharing nursery rhymes great literature may not be far behind. Because as scary as any nursery rhyme may be, none is more so than the classic tales of Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are” or Roald Dahl’s “The Witches.”

And I’m fairly certain that if we stop introducing the works of such literary geniuses to our children, we’re bound to feel pretty awful.

Even worse, I believe, than those three little kittens who lost their mittens.

23
Sep
2013

Good Ole Summertime

Summer is so over.

Even if the temperatures continue to hover in the eighties and even though the Autumn equinox doesn’t arrive until September 22, you and I both know when we talk about summer now it’s in the terms of “next.”

This occurs because in 1894 the United States designated the first Monday in September to honor the American worker. Labor Day was supposed to be a day of parades and speeches that recognized the contributions and sacrifices of workers, but its placement on the calendar imbued it with even more importance. It is the day that delineates between the end of summer fun and the beginning of school/work drudgery. (Thank you to the retail industry for softening the blow a teensy bit.)

It places powerful demands on us. Such as:

You have to stop wearing white. Okay, you don’t have to, but I do. It’s been ingrained in me since I was old enough to actually care what I wore to school.

You have to stop cutting vegetables for gazpacho and start slicing store-bought root vegetables for hot soup. Again, you can eat cold soup now that Labor Day has passed, but I can’t. (And I assure you that this has nothing to do with my pathetic homegrown crop of tomatoes. Or should I say tomato?).

You have to rip out those pastel pink impatiens and begonias just when they’ve filled out and look gorgeous, and replace them with mums. Again, you don’t have to, but I do. Pink annuals clash with the mums’ rich earthy tones of rust and orange.

Every year I tell myself I will throw caution to the wind and treat Labor Day solely for the purpose our forefathers had intended. I WILL wear white. I WILL eat cold soup. I WILL let my pretty annuals be killed off by the first frost and not die by my hand.

I WILL.

Right after I break the lock on my swim club’s chain link fence and take a quick dip. Who shuts down a pool when it’s still 85 degrees?

09
Sep
2013


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