Five nursery rhymes that teach the wrong life lessons

We went to Rhymetime this morning. Or ‘Mimetime’ as it shall henceforth be known. Why? Well, youngest seems to think she’s on an episode of Top of the Pops somewhere in the mid-1980s.

She used to merrily sing along, but now just either keeps her mouth shut or pretends to sing. We have no idea why. She belts them out at home.

Anyway, something that has been troubling me for a while are some of the lyrics we sing week in, week out while she stands there grinning.

There’s much that can be learned from nursery rhymes, but I’ve noticed a few ‘lessons’ that should definitely be ignored.

Five little monkeys

Every child knows the joy and associated dangers of jumping on the bed. Yet all five of the eponymous banana enthusiasts are slow learners. And, so, for that matter is their beleaguered mother.

The doctor repeatedly tells them to cease their divan-bouncing folly only to keep getting called back. And he doesn’t learn either as he returns without question. They all deserve each other.

I’m a Little Teapot

Is this anthropomorphic teapot having an existential crisis? All the lyrics purport to be from it with the exception of the last line. Then there’s a shocking twist. The last words are surely those of the tea!

Does the teapot represent the body and the tea the soul? Is the tea singing all along and mocking the teapot for being vertically challenged and portly before making good its escape? Who knows. But it has been confusing me for 30-odd years and that’s reason enough for today’s toddlers to ignore it.

Jack and Jill

Much like the five monkeys, Jill is something of a slow learner. Having seen her alliteratively named companion falling down the hill, she inexplicably follows suit.

Jack is equally dim if he thinks a serious head injury can be remedied with vinegar and brown paper. How many idiots does it take to fetch a pail of water?

Ten Fat Sausages

Yes, this nursery rhyme is great for teaching kids how to count down from ten in twos, but what about the cynical waste of lovely sausages in the process?

And what exactly is in these sausages? If they cease to exist after respectively going pop and bang, I can only assume they contain antimatter. Does this make the CERN super collider a sausage factory?

Miss Polly

This one inspires a few questions. How much of a sense of entitlement does Miss Polly have to trouble a physician to check up on a doll? Is said dolly sick in old parlance or new? If it’s the latter, it’s really quite an arrogant way to show how cool it is.

Presumably, the doctor is private rather than NHS as he promises to return with a bill, but this is still a flagrant abuse. Miss Polly should be ashamed of herself.

I’m sure there are plenty of other examples out there. Which nursery rhymes do you have questions about?

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