I can’t be the only one, surely? My brain feels like it’s melting and about drip out of my ear - like some kind of, past its sell-by-date, novelty candle. Why? Nursery rhymes. If I have to Row, row, row my boat down another stream, I’m likely to deliberately crash it into the river bank and set the wreck alight.
I just don’t get it. Why are they all so archaic? Why are they all so dull? Why are they all so... ‘Nursery rhyme-y’?
This over-exposure to flat, clunkily rhyme-schemed, ear-wormy, nauseating verse is making me more than a little irritable: which, perhaps, is the whole point. Maybe they were designed by a shadowy part of the government as a subtle form of psychological torture to keep parents brain-dead during the early years? On reflection, this would be overkill – sleep deprivation is fulfilling that function quite nicely.
Don’t get me wrong, they work. Nursery rhymes are like catnip for kids. My son’s entire demeanour changes when he hears about the aforementioned watercraft and its oar-based method of propulsion. He can be fully on a one-way trip to the dark side and the mere mention of that boat will bring him back to a smiley state (for which I’m grateful).
Yet, the thing is, I hate still them. I used to be a thrusting young professional. Actually, I was never a thrusting young professional. Whatever I was, it was infinitely more exciting than the automaton I’ve become - parroting rhymes, on a seemingly endless loop.
Let’s take a closer look:
There’s Old MacDonald, who, the rhyme tells us, is in agriculture. Good for him. Why I’m required to spend whole chunks of my day listing in inventory of his livestock (and the sounds they make) is beyond me. Yet, my son seems to enjoy the experience.
Another classic comes in form of: If you’re happy (and you know it) clap your hands! My son loved this song way back when he couldn’t clap his hands. I remember the song knowingly taunted me as I sang, gaining no response from him (an omission that, if the lyric is to be believed, suggested the boy wasn’t happy at all). Singing these songs is often a very thankless task.
Then there’s The Wheels On The Bus - they go “round and round”, don’t you know? All day long - which is roughly how long this particular song seems to go on for. Add in the need to think of new fun activities for the people on the bus to be involved in and you’ve got an instant headache for any mum or dad. My favourite variants include: “The daddies on the bus, sing a boring song - all day long” and “The passengers on the bus glare at the parents of the crying child...”
They’re just all so hopelessly boring. I can’t be the only one feeling this, surely?Nor can I be the only one who has adapted the lyrics. Nothing major, but enough to keep me from losing the plot.
For example, my son’s refusal to go to sleep, well past 9pm (after I’d cooked an elaborate meal for my other half’s birthday) led to: “If you’re a grumpy baby (and you know it) scream and cry. If you’re a grumpy baby (and you know it) scream and cry. If you’re a grumpy baby (and you know it) and you really want ruin a meal that daddy sweated over for hours… If you’re grumpy baby (and you know it) scream and cry.”
If you have your own unique Nursery rhymes, let me know. In the meantime, I’ve got to go. I need to tell the tale of Incy Wincy Spider (again) – a lesson in sheer futility, if I ever heard one.
Read more from Chris on his blog The Out Of Depth Dad.