I may have an outrageously dirty mind, but the following sampling from Sylvia Long’s “Mother Goose” strikes me as unfit bedtime fodder for my 2-year-old, better suited for, perhaps, a pedophile:
“I love little pussy,
Her coat is so warm,
And if I don’t hurt her
She’ll do me no harm.
“So I’ll not pull her tail,
Nor drive her away,
But pussy and I
Very gently will play.”
I’m certain you will. But I’m also pretty sure that I no longer want to bear witness to that particular cat-and-mouse game.
In fact, thanks to “little pussy,” I’m now having trouble ignoring the smut-text in the jumble of other nursery rhyme collections we have tumbling from our shelves, including not just Long’s but also Scholastic’s anniversary edition of “The Real Mother Goose”; Backpack Books’ “A Treasury for One Year Olds”; and Mary Engelbreit’s “Mother Goose Favorites.”
I’m finding it harder, now, to read about “Wee Willie Winkie” running through the town in nothing but his “nightgown.” I hardly think that his chum, also, coincidentally, named “Willie,” needs any urging to go “about the bush.” And I’m beginning to question just why Tommy Snooks asked Bessy Brooks, “Will you marry me on Monday?” Perhaps a “hot-cross bun” was plumping in the oven.
Since I'm on the topic, I’ve been wondering exactly how “Lucy Locket lost her pocket.” The fact that “There was not a penny in it,/But a ribbon ‘round it,” hardly exonerates her, since one of the Willies could’ve been on the scene just moments before, trying to fool us by tying it up in a neat bow.
And I’ve definitely noticed an excess of cock-a-doodle-dooing in these rhymes. I realize that, in many cases, we are dealing with barnyard animals. But when “my dame has lost her shoe,” must we bring a “cock” into it?
Incidentally, I did once know a 2-year-old who, when asked what a rooster says, would scream, “Cock!” That was a funny trick, on someone else’s child; but I’m not sure I want my toddler making that her preschool battle cry. And I’m not helping anyone by telling her, “The cock crows in the morn/To tell us to rise,” when, really, she’s the one doing all the squawking.
Frankly, the other night, I found it just plain offensive to have to read to my 2-year-old that “D was a fat Dick,/Who did nothing but eat.” I’m pretty sure that little Janie doesn’t need to know that this particular cad will “leave a book and play” for a “nice bit of meat.”
“Rain, rain, go away,/…Little Johnny want to play.” I’ll bet he does.
He probably runs in the same crew as Little Jack Horner, the one who likes to eat “Christmas pie.” Makes me wonder what else Georgy Porgy did besides “kissing” to make all those girls “cry.”
When all is said and done, I have to hand it to “my son John.” With all the “Diddle diddle dumpling” going on, at least he had the decency to get to bed with his “breeches on.”