On a rainy Saturday afternoon, my son and I were running around town and I could tell he was becoming more annoyed by the minute. I decided to liven things up with a sing-along. Since it was raining, I started with, what else: "It's raining, it's pouring. The old man is snoring. He went to bed with a lump on his head and didn't --" But I abruptly stopped in the middle of that verse. Wait. What? I never really thought about it before, but this dude "didn't get up in the morning." Does that mean he died?
I quickly changed the lyric to something lame like, "He didn't want to go to work in the morning." To which my son piped, "That's not right." But I didn't want to sing about death and dying to a 4-year-old. It's just too weird. But when I really started to think about it, so many of our favorite childhood songs are totally terrifying. Take a look at the 11 creepiest nursery rhymes we sing to our kids.
Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
If I shall die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen.
- I said this every night as a child. It's a wonder I didn't have nightmares about not waking up ever again.
Alouette, gentille alouette,
Alouette, je te plumerai.
Je te plumerai la tête. Je te plumerai la tête.
Et la tête! Et la tête!
The terrifying translation:
Lark, nice lark,
Lark, I will pluck you.
I will pluck your head. I will pluck your head.
And your head! And your head!
Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater
Peter Peter pumpkin eater
Had a wife and couldn't keep her
He put her in a pumpkin shell
And there he kept her very well!
- Yikes! He's basically holding her hostage.
Three Blind Mice
Three blind mice, three blind mice,
See how they run, see how they run,
They all ran after the farmer's wife,
Who cut off their tails with a carving knife,
Did you ever see such a thing in your life,
As three blind mice?
- I'm no fan of mice, but this is pretty violent.
Georgie Porgie pudding and pie
Kissed the girls and made them cry.
When the boys came out to play,
Georgie Porgie ran away.
- Well, if you think about it, this will teach girls early on that guys can be jerks.
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.
- Hello! Jack broke his head. His head!
Sing a Song of Sixpence
Sing a song of sixpence a pocket full of rye,
Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened the birds began to sing,
Oh wasn't that a dainty dish to set before the king?
The king was in his counting house counting out his money,
The queen was in the parlour eating bread and honey
The maid was in the garden hanging out the clothes,
When down came a blackbird and pecked off her nose!
- Snapped off her nose? Who wrote this -- Alfred Hitchcock?
Rock-a-bye baby, in the treetop
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock.
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall
And down will come baby, cradle and all.
- So, you can imagine what happens if a baby really falls out of a tree. Totally morbid!
Ring-a-Round a Rosie
Ring-a-round a rosie,
A pocket full of posies,
Ashes! Ashes! We all fall down.
- This ditty is actually about the Plague.
London Bridge Is Falling Down
London Bridge is falling down,
Falling down, falling down.
London Bridge is falling down,
My fair lady.
- So if the bridge is crumbling into the water, doesn't that mean cars full of people are too?
Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe
There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children, she didn't know what to do.
She gave them some broth without any bread
Then whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.
- Jeez. Why did she beat her hungry children? Talk about Mommy Dearest.
What other nursery rhymes should be on this list?
by usmom3February 26, 2013 at 12:05 PMWe have sang them & talked
about what they are really about.
Oh we love those ones! The Grimm's Fairy tales are our fave's too! My boys love when rumplestiltzkin stomps a hole to hell and rips himself in half! and the princess gives the shoes to her stepmother who dances herself to death.
I'm not one for sheltering my kids, death and revenge and all those nasty emotions are part of life, they make great discussions. Not to mention my middle boy is extremely dark and just hated the mellowed out rewrites from Disney.
by blueyedbakerFebruary 26, 2013 at 5:47 PM
I did! I also say the ABC's over and over to them when they were babies while rocking them. My youngest knew her ABC's when she was 9 months. She was able to sing them so young just because I sang them to her so much. That was the only thing I could do to get her to sleep!
by lucschFebruary 26, 2013 at 8:55 PM
Yes, I did...well, actually for preschool and K, we read nursery rhyme books. Really, they cause no permanent harm.