By MONTY DIMOND
My son Bax is 14 months old. He is a typical little boy, meaning he is INTENSE. He is currently sporting gorgeous yellow and brown bruises all over his face as a result of flinging himself head first off the couch.
We have both discovered the hard way that kids are not like cats or balls, they don’t always land on their feet or bounce.
One of the only ways to keep Bax still for a real 30 seconds (you take what you can get) is when I sing nursery rhymes to him. He bloody loves it. A big grin comes across his face and he joyously claps along to my extremely terrible tone.
I never find him more delicious than when he wiggles his fingers in the air while I sing ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’. Those little things keep me from throwing him in the bin when he is driving me nuts.
The other day while my Mum and I were giving a live playschool performance (we gave Benita a run for her money) Mum mentioned how a lot of the nursery rhymes are kinda sinister.
I promptly ran to my reliable mate Google and did a little nursery rhyme researching. Who knew such innocent, catchy little songs came from such dark and twisted places.
I regularly belt out ‘Humpty Dumpty’ and have always envisioned a cute little chubby egg perched up on a wall. But Mr Dumpty ain’t no egg, he is a DRUNK. Yeah, you heard right, a filthy, clumsy, dirty little swine full to the brim of Brandy. I feel like my whole childhood has been a lie. At Easter time are the smarties inside my chocolate Humpty even real smarties? I don’t know what to believe anymore!
“It’s raining, it’s pouring” is another classic nursery rhyme that I’m sure you are familiar with. Every time the rain comes down (living in Melbourne rain comes in bucket loads) I sing it to Bax. I never thought much of this ditty, besides the fact that the old man might have a little headache after the bump. BUT, this isn’t the case. Apparently this song is about an old man with serious head injuries. He is bed ridden and won’t be able to get up….. EVER! There’s nothing like a serious disability to take the fun out of singing this tune to your little treasure.
One of my favourite nursery rhymes growing up was ‘Ring a Ring a Rosie’. I used to love skipping around in a circle, holding hands with my other little sweaty pals. I thought we must have been singing about flowers and runny noses. If only it was that innocent.
The truth is, yonks ago, a ‘rosy rash’ was a symptom of the great plague. Posies of herbs were carried in people’s pockets to ward off the smell of disease and a sneeze was usually followed by falling down. As in DEAD! That’s a nice light, super fun for the kiddies to sing about.
‘Jack and Jill’ is Bax’s favourite of them all. Mainly due to my fabulous singing in falsetto (think Anne Hathaway in Les Mis). I do however love the back story to this nursery rhyme. The original version was actually about two boys. Jack and Gill. Back then, before we were all born, a ‘Gill’ was a word used to describe someone’s sweetheart.
So If I put two and two together, which I will, Jack and Gill were gay lovers who went up the hill. The fact that Jack broke his crown is a minor detail, the awesome part is that for hundreds of years we have been singing about man love without even knowing it. How fabulous. No one tell Bob Katter!
Even though most of these little songs have pretty sad and unhappy endings, if they buy me even a second of silence my inner Benita will shine. After all, silence really is bliss.
Katie “Monty” Dimond is a broadcaster and media personality. She has appeared on Channel Ten, Channel Nine, and Nova FM. She is currently busy being a full time Mum to her one year old son and will feature in a new ABC comedy series with Merrick Watts coming soon.
Do you have a favourite nursery rhyme to sing with your kids? Are there television shows or stories from your childhood that simply don’t make sense?