Could someone please explain to me the appeal of the nursery rhyme to the two-year-old musical palate? In theory I understand it; tried and true, loved for generations, blah, blah, blah. But WHY? I don’t get it. They are jaunty little tunes for sure, but so is the Ramones’ entire catalog. And much to my chagrin, my son still walks around the house singing Ring Around the Rosie instead of Rockaway Beach. But to be fair, what kid wouldn’t love a little ditty about the Bubonic Plague?
This is a rare instance when I’m actually thankful for The Wiggles and their nauseatingly helpful DVD collection on this very subject, because the words to these songs have been buried in the deepest depths of my brain since I was a kid. I’d hoped they’d automatically resurface once I became a parent, but not so. I realized I could fumble through a verse of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Or I could confidently belt out most of B-I-N-G-O – not to brag, but as a 7th runner up in my second grade spelling bee such things come easy to me. But trying to recall most of Mother Goose’s shockingly prolific musical career, I’m pretty much useless. If you need someone to rap every word of Salt & Peppa’s ‘Shoop’ poorly and without rhythm, I’m your girl. But nursery rhymes are best left to the professionals.
Truth be told, most of these narratives require me to suspend disbelief to a degree I am simply not capable. Take Hickory Dickory Dock, for instance. I’m meant to believe there is a mouse agile enough to scale vertical surfaces without some type of suction-cup apparatus a la Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible? Sorry, not buying it. And then there’s the social negligence! I take no issue with Mary or her little lamb. If you’re an ovine-enthusiast, fine. Who am I to judge? But hauling that wooly bastard to school? You stand to give everyone in that whole place lamb-rabies. You won’t catch Little Bo Peep pulling that crap.
The more obscure, out-dated, or vaguely morbid the song, the more my son seems to enjoy it. My gentle attempts at reprogramming by exposure to my own musical tastes only seem to strengthen his resolve. He’ll indulge the Beatles, Bowie, Elvis Costello, or The Essential Daryl Hall & John Oates for mere moments before demanding I make with the London Bridge. And so, defeated, I oblige. I smile and pretend hearing the same irritating songs 7,000 times a day doesn’t make me want to puncture my own eardrums with a rusty fondue fork. I just put a different tune on repeat in my head and pretend the actions to Itsy Bitsy Spider are actually an interpretive dance to Ziggy Stardust. Sigh. The things we do for our kids.