Just the other day I was thinking about nursery rhymes and their meaning in childhood education; I thought about the lessons these rhymes were trying to convey. On closer inspection and thinking I realized that our childhood is misled and fed on too much of embarrassing stuff that reading between the lines feels like plaguing your senses with otherwise socially taboos stuffs or incidents.
Here are the possible psychological perspectives to the popular nursery rhymes:
- Goosey Goosey Gander: Gander is male and “goosey goosey” seems to be conveying a male who is beloved to goose – something like lovey dovey. Another line is “Into my lady’s chamber.. there I met an old man”. My lady is usually used to denote wife or respected women. Here it could be wife or mother or maybe a sister or female acquaintance. Old Man could denote father or any known aged man. My question is – What was he doing in lady’s chamber that he was hurled down the stairs? Can’t get our children ideas of making a killing by pushing someone down the stairs… do we?
- Georgie Porgie: Georgie kissed girls and made them cry….. oh! Not a nursery rhyme we want our sons to follow right? And that reference to all the boys coming out and Georgie running away? There’s lot of sexual undertone in this seemingly innocent childish prank.
- Oranges and Lemons: Starting off with innocent lines, this rhyme turns gruesome towards the end. It seems that all the oranges and lemons lead to the demons! Another hidden way to denote the guillotine/chopping off was the entire action play involving this rhyme.
- Mary, Mary Quite Contrary: The contrary is quite scary to put this rhyme too into one of the most craftily put with loads of hidden meanings. Mary here denotes ‘Queen Mary’ or Bloody Mary who prosecuted people in a bid to convert people to Catholicism. Silver Bells, cockleshells and maids (actually maiden) are torture instruments.
- Ba Ba Black Sheep: Usually a “black sheep” refers to the bad person or maybe it’s a racist discrimination? Does it denote that they work under white people? Why is it particularly focusing on color? Any explanations for this?
- It’s Raining, It’s Pouring: When the old man bumps his head, he couldn’t get up in morning. Was he dead? Now how do we answer that??
The more I dig , the more I’m losing faith in what we are teaching our children. Maybe we must switch to the Hindi versions like Chanda Mama Dur ke…. Wait… this is discriminatory too… Why Uncle eats in plate while Munna eats in a tiny bowl?? Are you teaching your own kid that you cannot expect the right treatment from relatives???
Maybe I’m reading too much between the lines…. am dropping off this research on rhymes!