Why Are Nursery Rhymes So Creepy?

Heather Chaet

nursery rhymesThere are a lot of things out there that I don't really want to expose my kiddo to -- violence, hatred, clowns. Until she gets a bit older, I'm not telling her where Nemo's mom really went in Finding Nemo, along with Chicken Little's mom and most every other mom in the animated movie genre (right now, the moms had to go away on a loooooonnnng trip). Nursery rhymes are on that list too.

Yes, nursery rhymes. Why? Because they are creepy and violent and old. And that goes for some oldie-but-not-so-goodie lullabies.

Makes you wonder: where are the new nursery rhymes?

Look at the classics. You've got Old Mother Hubbard and her barren cupboard (animal neglect) as well as the old woman who lived in a shoe with so many kids that she whipped them (child abuse). Perhaps the most famous lullaby, "Rock-a-Bye Baby," has a cradle in a tree that falls down with the baby inside (child endangerment).

Seriously disturbing, odd, old -- many of these date back to the early 1700s, if not before. But they are still hanging around. You walk the aisles at Barnes & Noble or search Amazon.com, and there they are. Sure, bright and shiny new covers, but same old rhymes.

I say we need some new ones, folks. We have some great children's poets (Shel Silverstein comes to mind), but no one is really making up new nursery rhymes, per se. Maybe they no longer fit into a modern 21st-century kid's world ... hey, maybe they just need a makeover!

Take the princess story -- those fairy tales have been around just as long as nursery rhymes, but through the years, they have been updated, tweaked, revamped to appeal to the modern kiddo (thank you, Disney). Someone needs to do the same thing with nursery rhymes. We need Extreme Makeover: Nursery Rhyme Edition! Where's Ty Pennington and that bullhorn?!

Let's see, perhaps something like:

There was an old woman who lived in a Manolo,
She had so many kids, but she learned how to sing solo.
She went on Idol, she became a big star
And got three nannies, two Grammys, and a big car!

Okay, yeah, I'll keep working on them.

Do you like nursery rhymes?


Image via fairbrand/Flickr

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