Jewish World Review Jan. 7, 2004 / 13 Teves, 5764

David Grimes

JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Nursery rhymes to scare the kids by | If you, as a parent, want your young children to have a comprehensive understanding of modern emergency medical procedures — and who doesn't? — you should probably avoid reading them nursery rhymes.

Canadian researchers at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, held several popular nursery rhymes up to the cold, harsh, skin-drying light of scientific scrutiny and found them in serious need of a rewrite.

Particularly misleading were the rhymes "Humpty Dumpty" and "Jack and Jill." The idea of all the kings horses and all the king's men trying to put Humpty together again is simply ludicrous, the researchers assert.

"What sort of EMS (emergency medical service) training and equipment did these first responders have?" they wrote in their paper titled "Cranio-Facial Trauma and the Myth of Equine Care Management."

Actually, I made that title up (probably), but the fact remains that there are a disturbing number of references to head and/or spinal injuries in nursery rhymes and seldom, if ever, are the injuries given the serious attention that they warrant.

Take "Jack and Jill," for instance. I quote: "Jack and Jill Went up the hill To fetch a pail of water. Jack fell down And broke his crown And Jill came tumbling after. Up Jack got And home did trot As fast as he could caper Went to bed

And plastered his head

With vinegar and brown paper."

Donate to JWR

This nursery rhyme raises many troubling questions:

1) Isn't it rather unusual for a water source to be located at the top of a hill?

2) Is it wise to send children on this water-collection errand when the hill in question is clearly perilously steep to the point that a misstep could result in a skull fracture?

3) Did Jill make any attempt to call 911 after seeing the extent of Jack's injuries?

4) Did Jill attempt to administer first aid to Jack or attempt to keep him immobile until emergency medical personnel arrived?

5) Is the state attorney's office aware that, a mere week before Jack's "accident," Jill took out a $1 million insurance policy on Jack's life and made herself the beneficiary?

6) Was it not Jill who poured unsterilized vinegar into Jack's open head wound, causing Jack to have violent seizures before lapsing into a coma from which he would never awaken?

7) Was it not Jill who wrapped Jack's head in brown paper as a means of concealing the potentially fatal nature of his wounds and, at the same time, deflecting any inquiry into her possible culpability?

8) Why were investigators unable to put two and two together when, six months later, they disinterred Jack's body from its shallow grave in the woods and found it lacking a head?

9) Is Jill (who now calls herself Nancy) enjoying her new life in Cancun?

10) Where's the National Enquirer when you need it?

But "Jack and Jill" is a model of compassion compared with other nursery rhymes. I am speaking, specifically, of "Rock-a-Bye Baby":

Rock-a-bye, baby, in the tree top. When the wind blows, the cradle will rock. When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall, And down will come baby, cradle and all.

This is certainly a pleasant image to drill into a young child's mind just before she nods off to sleep. Besides the sheer Stephen-Kingian horror of the nursery rhyme, it might also lead to some trust issues as the child comes to realize that she is being raised by parents who see nothing wrong with balancing an infant's cradle on the limb of a swaying tree.

And don't get me started on the farmer's wife in "Three Blind Mice."

That woman's just sick, that's all. Just plain sick.

Appreciate this column? Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor David Grimes is a columnist for The Sarasota Herald Tribune. Comment by clicking here.


12/30/03: Ear-scratcher fingered by police
12/24/03: Gifts for that not-so-special someone
12/18/03: Things we hate to do
12/09/03: Keep your name out of this book
12/03/03: When tots control the world
11/18/03: Danger: TVs falling from above
11/11/03: Songs that won't go away
11/04/03: Keep technology away from the monkeys
10/29/03: A career of sensational regrets
10/22/03: Ig Nobels reward weird science
10/16/03: TV golf needs a kick in the pants
10/08/03: That's geek to me
09/30/03: A man, a woman and a cat
09/22/03: A tale of two spams
09/16/03: Librarian action figure will be taking no guff
09/10/03: Slackers need to remain invisible
09/02/03: No fun in the summertime
08/26/03: The algebra of love
08/11/03: Journey to the center of the pavement cracks
08/06/03: Word dominance by U.S. appears a fait accompli
07/28/03: Ads that are hard to swallow
07/09/03: Keep cows out of the classroom
07/03/03: Little-appreciated facts about unshaven men
06/24/03: Brother, can you paradigm?
06/18/03: Cats, TV not a good mix
06/10/03: In defense of grumpiness
06/04/03: Do we really need keyboards in our Port-A-Johns?
05/29/03: Always a dull men's moment
05/21/03: Bad PC hygiene leads to bugs
05/12/03:Army mops up; Tony Blair doesn't
05/06/03: Grill a hamburger for PETA
05/01/03: Exams spice history
04/23/03: Too much money? Tax me more!
04/14/03: When good gourds go bad
04/11/03: One fish-tale that isn't --- and that's no lie!
04/02/03: Do you really want to know what your dog's thinking?
03/26/03: Pajamas make high school less stressful
03/21/03: It's time to be nice to the French
03/03/03: The ultimate clean and constructive sport
02/12/03: Get a bang out of cleaning with cruise vacuum
02/06/03: Voluntary kindness? Not likely
01/28/03: Signs our economy is on upswing
01/22/03: There may be cash in your old underwear
01/15/03: Banish these words, now more than ever
01/07/03: Coughing as an art form
12/24/02: Parents shell out for missed homework
12/17/02: French government says no to @ symbol
12/11/02: A latecomer joins fellowship of the DVD
12/02/02: Don't worry, be fat, unfit and really happy
11/18/02: Intrigued by a German invention that could get teens out of bed before the crack of noon
11/06/02: A noose by any other name ...
10/29/02: Iranian dogs on notice
10/22/02: Talk about a job that stinks --- literally!
10/15/02: The official world's funniest joke
10/02/02: Japanese turn eyes to computer haikus
09/27/02: Oh, no! Bosses want to know what's on your mind
09/24/02: An airbag, humanity's salvation?
09/06/02: Come listen to a story about a man named ... Bill
09/03/02: You're not in preschool anymore!
08/30/02: A charming idea from a brutal, whacked-out, megalomaniacal dictator-for-life
08/26/02: Blubber water? How to put on the pounds by gulping H20
08/21/02: The latest evidence that Mother Nature is out to kill us
08/13/02: Computers, airplanes and Canada don't mix
08/06/02: The sky's not falling? Dang it!
08/02/02: Some fond memories of worst TV shows
07/30/02: Pay my credit-card bill, please?
07/25/02: Something to celebrate
07/22/02: Baseball needs to ban the fans
07/16/02: Hasbro should consider new inaction figure
07/11/02: Decline in trash-talking is harming our mental health? Well, #@%&!
07/08/02 Americans retain right to fork tongues
07/01/02 These laws were made to be broken
06/18/02 Watching enough commercials?
06/03/02 Throwing your vote to the dogs
05/08/02 Hey, Mom, could you spare a dime?: Parents' obligations unending

© 2002, Sarasota Herald Tribune