I love children’s books. Long before my children could understand, I was reading to them. When my son was a toddler I would read to him things far above his attention span while he played toys. Initially it seemed like only a soothing activity to me, but now I realize that I genuinely love the content of children’s books. They are likable for a few obvious reasons: the stories are happy, beautiful, or peaceful; and if not, they are exciting stories of adventure. They are a short reprieve from the reality of adulthood.
My toddler daughter has been very interested in Mother Goose lately, so I have spent a lot of time with our tattered copy. The poor thing has tape on almost every page.
As a child I learned many Mother Goose rhymes by heart. I was surprised how many rushed back to me once I started reciting them for my son. There is all sorts of virtue mixed into the classic stories of childhood. For instance, there is the classic rhyme:
Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream,
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream.
I struggle to take this philosophy to heart, but I would like to.
There is also a lot of sneaky wisdom in Mother Goose. For instance, we have the importance of details:
For want of a nail, the shoe was lost,
For want of the shoe, the horse was lost,
For want of a horse, the rider was lost,
For want of a rider, the battle was lost,
For want of the battle, the kingdom was lost,
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.
The itsy bitsy spider
Climbed up the water spout.
Down came the rain
And washed the spider out.
Out came the sun
And dried up all the rain,
And the itsy bitsy spider
Climbed up the spout again.
They that wash on Monday
Have all the week to dry;
They that wash on Tuesday
Are not so much awry;
They that wash on Wednesday
Are not so much to blame;
They that wash on Thursday,
Wash for shame;
They that wash on Friday,
Wash in need;
And they that wash on Saturday
Are lazy folks indeed.
Speak kindly to your dog, my boy!
All things that live know pain and joy.
Speak harshly to your dog and see
How sad and shamed he seems to be;
His head, and ears, and tail all say,
Oh! Let me go far, far away!
And for patience:
Time enough next year to marry.
Hearts may change,
And so may fancy;
Wait a little longer, Nancy.
Then there is the more well-known side of Mother Goose, which leaves the reader full of questions. Like this one about the ultimate party:
Hey, diddle, diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon.
The little dog laughed
To see such sport,
And the dish ran away with
And lastly, one relevant to conclude this post:
The man in the moon
Looked out of the moon
And this is what he said,
“Tis time that, now I’m getting up,
All babies went to bed.”