sing for your supper
We have returned from the Valley of Pigflu.
Hope you are well too. Though what I’m writing about today makes me a little heart-sick.
Seems nursery rhymes are dying out. The London Telegraph reports that modern parents find them old-fashioned and uneducational. Harumph.
I sensed the first stirrings of this 20 years ago, when Boywonder was young enough for playdates. When the living/rumpus room was a wreck and blocks had gone from stackable objects to missiles, I would settle the boys down on the couch for a book or two. Out would come good ol’ Mother Goose. Boywonder could recite the rhymes with me–and Visitor? Never heard ’em before.
Nursery rhymes were a huge part of my childhood. Song lyrics. Games. Books. What an easy transition from memorized poems to reading those poems on the page.
Rhythm and rhyme. Babies learn motor coordination in poems like Pat a Cake and This Little Piggy. Surely nursery rhymes pattern young brains to appreciate Ode on a Grecian Urn and Leaves of Grass later in life. Listen to the rhythm:
Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross
To see a fine lady upon a white horse
With rings on her fingers and bells on her toes
She shall have music wherever she goes.
I don’t know about you, but that nursery rhyme makes me feel like setting a 2-year-old on my knee and bouncing her around while she giggles. And don’t forget to pinch her little fingers and toes at the appropriate parts.
I could always pull several dozen nursery rhymes out of my skull at the drop of a hat. When Bottled Lightning was four, she and I had a nursery rhyme-off at the car repair shop. Now that I think about it, that’s damn weird. But, hey. That’s how we roll.
My nursery rhyme roots go back to my grandmother, who was born in 1885. She grew up educated, but very poor. Eventually, she became a leading member of the DAR and a well-known genealogist. At that time, it was a woman’s only way out of obscurity. Her grandmother recited the rhymes to her, and I will recite them to my grandchildren. Imagine. The very same poems, entertaining seven generations.
I can’t end this post without adding my favorite nursery rhyme of all time. I don’t know why, but this is it:
Bobby Shaftoe’s gone to sea,
With silver buckles on his knee:
He’ll come back and marry me,
Pretty Bobby Shaftoe!
Bobby Shaftoe’s fat and fair,
Combing down his yellow hair;
He’s my love for evermore,
Pretty Bobby Shaftoe.
Tell me your favorite nursery rhymes. Come on, guys. Don’t let me down!