11 Beloved Nursery Rhymes That Kids Should Never Hear

jack and jillOn 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.

What other nursery rhymes should be on this list?


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nonmember avatar Anner

The problem is you NOW view them as an adult. It really didn't hurt you growing up did it? Lighten up! Do you really want to miss the laughter that ensues when children play Ring around the Rosie and then they all fall down? Not me. The innocence of childhood protects them.

ash-lee ash-lee

Ever heard all the lyrics to "My Darling Clementine"? Totally morbid.

eupeptic eupeptic

When I was in 1st grade or so I learned that a large part of the reason for going to school (which I didn't enjoy) was to prepare me for being an adult. As such I started questioning whether what we were being taught was educational or just a waste of my time. "Jack and Jill" made no sense to me, neither did "There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly."

On the other hand "The Emperor's New Clothes" is educational in the sense that one can learn to place a higher value on empirical evidence rather than on unquestioned belief/suggestion.

GlowW... GlowWorm889

There is one  major problem with most nursery rhymes: They were never intended for children, at least not in the way we would think of songs for children. A lot of them refer to the political climate of the day. "Rock-a-Bye Baby" for instance, is thought by many historians to be talking about the events immediately before the Glorious Revolution in England, in which the Catholic King James II was overthrown. The "baby" is the heir of King James, often thought to be another child smuggled into the birthing room. The "cradle" is the House of Stewart, and the "wind" refers to the Protestant Wind. "Humpty Dumpty" is thought to either be a riddle (to which the answer is an egg) or a satire of King Richard III.

And contratry to popular belief, most historians do not think that "Ring Around the Rosie" was about the Black Plague. For one, it doesn't describe the symptoms of the illness very well. For another, it wasn't even written until a good 400 years AFTER the plague.

Rootbear Rootbear

I really hope this is some kind of satire. Worried about nursery rhymes? Come on. I'm pretty sure some of these have been around for hundereds of years and most of the kids didn't turn out to be raging psychopaths.

While we're at it, lets take an in depth look at fairy tales and the seedy underbelly that goes along with those. Jeez.

nonmember avatar jessica

I always knew it as "it's rainning it's pouring the old man is snoring he went to be bumped his head and didn't get up till the morning" maybe thats like a pg version so it wasnt about death

EmmaF... EmmaFromEire

Yes eupeptic, that sounds like a thing that happened when you were that age.....

nonmember avatar ZMommy

This was funny! When I was in eighth grade, my Health teacher told the class about Ring Around the Rosey being about The Plague. He explained the meaning behind each lyric. Ugh! I've never felt the same about that nursery rhyme since, lol. :-)

nonmember avatar HS

I was really hoping for an intelligent piece on the meanings behind nursery rhymes. What I ended up reading was something written as a 5th grader's interpretation :( You're on the right track that nursery rhymes are dark and awful but your shallow interpretations were way off. Try reading some of the original Grimm stories. Let's just say Cinderella ended drastically different than how Disney dressed it up. For someone writing on a blog site I would have thought your literary understanding of these rhymes would have been a bit deeper. And you were singing the Old Man song wrong, he didn't wake up TILL morning. Still kinda harsh though. And 4 is quite alright for starting to discuss death.

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