Jewish World Review Jan. 7, 2004 / 13 Teves, 5764
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
And plastered his head
With vinegar and brown paper."
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, 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.
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JWR contributor David Grimes is a columnist for The Sarasota Herald Tribune. Comment by clicking here.
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