Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Nursery Rhymes Crimes

Nursery Rhymes Crimes | Graphic property of and featured on www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

 I fell down a rabbit hole today. Turns out some rabbit holes can ruin your childhood.

You know what I'm talking about, an article catches your eye, which leads you to another article, which leads you to a thought, which leads you to a different article and the next thing you know, it's an hour later and your somewhere in a completely different rabbit hole. Like some weird game of single player telephone.

Where I started was with (yet another) article about whether or not video games beget violence. I read that they do. Then I read that they don't. I read that they could and I read that they couldn't. Nothing I read changed my point of view, that what each child should or shouldn't be exposed to (and when) needs to be based on that particular child's emotional make up and maturity level.

But what sent me down that second rabbit hole was one little line in one of the articles about the way we grew up before video games. About how we wreaked havoc on the neighborhood with games of War and Cowboys and Indians. Not exactly peaceful play, yet we didn't all grow up to be serial killers.

But wait, we were also raised on nursery rhymes, right? Those fun little ditties read to and taught to the youngest of the young. Lovely, sweet, harmless nursery rhymes. That's their reputation. And they stick with us, too. I remember my mom pointedly reciting to me (quite often, I'm afraid): 

There was a little girl, 
had a little curl, 
right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good, 
she was very good indeed,
but when she was bad, she was horrid.

Well, maybe not exactly sweet. In fact, in retrospect, this curly haired girl thinks it may have been a tad passive aggressive. So down that nursery rhyme rabbit hole I went, and ended up somewhere I never expected. Violence.
Violence? You want to talk violence? Do any of us have any idea what we were running around saying? Passing on as innocent to our children? Some of those nursery rhymes will curl your hair. And not just violence, those verses are a veritable cesspool of insults and abuse.

Now I can't do anything about video games, coding is way above my pay grade, but I sure as hell have some major editing makeover suggestions for those nursery rhymes.
Like this one. Violence is bad enough in general, but against the disabled? How's that for a lesson to children?
Three blind mice, three blind mice. 
See how they run. See how they run.
They all ran after the farmer's wife,
who cut off their tails with a carving knife.
Did you ever see such a sight in your life,
as three blind mice?
When it could easily have been:
Three vision impaired mice, three vision impaired mice.
See how they compensate. See how they compensate.
They all ran after the farmer's wife,
who gave them the cheese to lessen their strife.
Kindness we all should have in our life,
like three vision impaired mice.
And spousal abuse? Kidnapping? What were they thinking?
Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater,
had a wife but couldn't keep her,
he put her in a pumpkin shell,
and there he kept her very well.
When they could have easily taught a lesson to men about marriage, and to women about self-worth:

Peter, Peter, vegetarian eater,
had a wife but was a cheater.
Started treating her with respect,
and she chose to stay, completely unchecked.
Then there's body shaming, face breaking and poor sportsmanship. Not to mention, although I suck at poetry, even I could do better than rhyming race with pillowcase. This
Fat and skinny had a race, 
up and down the pillowcase.
Fat fell down and broke his face,
and skinny won the race.

could be a lesson in kindness and friendship:

Stout and angular had a race,
round the diamond towards third base.
Stout fell, and angular stayed in place,
so they could tie the race. 

This one not only features ageism, but what the hell, why not add in a little child abuse: 

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
Had so many children, she didn't know what to do.
She gave them some broth without any bread.
Then whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.
Which could easily be a tale of love conquering economic challenges:
There was a mature woman of quite limited means,
had lots of children, from toddler to teens. 
Dinnertime was difficult, just soup, no bread.
Kissed them and hugged them and put them to bed.

Not all nursery rhymes are actively offensive. But there are a few that could use a little tweaking to bring them up to date, accentuate an obvious moral to the story. Like:

Jack Sprat could eat no fat.
His wife could eat no lean.
But, together both,
they licked the platter clean.

highlighting the symbiotic nature of a good marriage: 

Sprat's gallbladder could stand no fats,
his wife had different taste.
But complimenting each other perfectly,
achieved optimal lack of food waste.
Tangy Beef and Vegetables (Crockpot or Not) is a lower in fat dinner. Beef, carrots, and potatoes are cooked all in one pan in a spicy, tangy sauce. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #dinner

Tangy Beef and Vegetables (Crockpot or Not)
Tangy Beef and Vegetables (Crockpot or Not) is a lower in fat dinner. Beef, carrots, and potatoes are cooked all in one pan in a spicy, tangy sauce. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #dinner
This one too, silly and nonsensical but fun and funny, isn't offensive, but its point is, if nothing else, confounding. It could impart an important message about loving each other:
Hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle.
the cow jumped over the moon.
The little dog laughed to see such a sport,
and the dish ran away with the spoon.
For instance:
Hey diddle diddle, beautiful cat playing fiddle,
in love, the cow was over the moon.
Little dog smiled at such inclusiveness,
and dish, emboldened, proposed to the spoon.
Oh, and as long as we're making adjustments to childhood expressions, let me just say this:
Sticks and stones may break our bones, 
but insults are psychologically scarring, so don't do that either.

Baking In A Tornado signature | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Tangy Beef and Vegetables (Crockpot or Not)        


Printable Recipe

1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
2/3 cup spicy pepper jelly (can use the mild version if preferred)
1/3 cup orange juice
1 TBSP canola oil
2 1/2 # lean stew beef
1 tsp garlic powder 
1 bag (10 oz) frozen chopped onions
1 cup baby carrots
3 new potatoes, quartered 
4 oz snap peas

*For the sauce, whisk together the tomato sauce, pepper jelly, orange juice, and 1/2 cup of water (for slow cooker) or 1 cup water (for oven cooking).
*Heat the canola oil in a large skillet. Add the beef and sprinkle with the garlic powder. Cook until browned, drain the fat.
*FOR SLOW COOKER: Spray the slow cooker with cooking spray, turn on to low heat. Mix in the cooked beef, onion, and sauce. Cover and cook for 4 hours. Raise the heat level to high, add the carrots and potatoes, cook for 1 1/2 hours, mix in the snap peas and cook for another 1/2 hour.
*FOR OVEN: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the cooked beef, onion, and sauce in a dutch oven. Cook for 2 1/2 hours. Remove from oven but leave the oven on. Uncover carefully, mix in the carrots and potatoes, recover, and return to the oven for 1/2 hour. Mix in the snap peas, cover and cook another 1/2 hour.


  1. There is definitely a LOT of violence and non-politically correct behavior going on in those nursery rhymes!

    1. I never realized it, or even thought about it until I actually started looking into it.

  2. Hehe, I must say that I think children always have and always will love those blood dripping tales.
    I liked your re-writes, but I love the originals.

    1. Yes, the originals are synonymous with our childhoods.

  3. Wow. So much info in one post. Awesome. I am just about to make some stew and might instead make your suggested beef and veggies. Thanks so much. Will share.

  4. Violence in children's stories seems to be so common. You wrote some nice alternatives but I don't think they would become too popular, at least until the pandemic is over. Disney, for one, did a lot of - call it censorship? If you go to older tellings of Cinderella (stepsisters cut off their toes to try to get into the glass slipper) and other stories his studio adopted, things are pretty bloody. So why? My theory is, life was grim that many years ago. Mortality was high (chances are the child may have lost his/her mother to childbirth, and infant brothers and sisters to whatever illness was floating around), plagues were common, and there was just no desire to tell upbeat stories under those circumstances. So, having said these grim things - my spouse is making a meat based soup right now, and between his cooking aromas and your recipe, I'm getting mighty hungry. Alana ramblinwitham.blogspot.com

    1. I think you're right, my versions won't exactly take off, but I did enjoy updating those old nursery rhymes.

  5. Oh how differnt we see these nursey rhymes as adults in an age when we question things

  6. The rhymes are the product of their times. Difficult and sometimes nasty times, too. When my tots were little, i would sing Rock-a-Bye-Baby and change the ending to "mom will catch baby, cradle and all."

  7. Absolutely brilliant, Karen! Brilliant! I love your versions. Hmmm...what do you think of taking the job rewriting all offensive nursery rhymes?! I would start you out with Higgledy Piggledy, my black hen. That one really drive me crazy!


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