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Top Five F**ked Up Nursery Rhymes

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The biggest threat to family values may be Mother Goose.

Momlogic's Momstrosity: Nursery rhymes, we've heard them our whole lives -- and we pass down from generation to generation just like hair color and alcoholism. Since almost all families are a little nuts, it's time to put the blame somewhere. Like most of society, we blame mom -- in this case we mean Mother Goose. Why? Because if you listen carefully to the words of the most popular nursery rhymes, you find some really screwed up family dynamics.

1) Jack Sprat

The story: Jack Sprat can't eat fat and his wife can't eat anything else. When they're done eating "They lick their platter clean."

What it teaches our kids:
One word: Enabling. Obviously, this couple has some serious food issues, and they're NOT helping each other deal. Not to mention, they don't seem to be big sticklers for hygiene since they use their tongues to wash dishes. (Hey Sprats, ever heard of a dishwasher?) We can guess there's no 3-second rule at the Sprat house.

2) Rub-a-Dub-Dub Three Men in a Tub

The story: Three guys hang out in a bathhouse.

What this teaches our kids:
Anytime you've got three adult men taking a bath together, you got trouble. No, we're not homophobic at momlogic -- we're just curious why the butcher, baker and candlestick maker are all hanging out in a Jacuzzi talking shop. These three dudes aren't exactly role models, unless we're teaching our kids if they want to be a success they've got to be willing to get into bed -- or rather the bath with the local businessmen. Just like daddy.

3) Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater

The story: A guy can't take care of his own wife, so he imprisons her in a pumpkin shell.

What it teaches our kids:
Women need to be taken care of by men, and we're in a recession. Peter is obviously having a bad year as a professional 'Pumpkin Eater' and might have got himself into a bad mortgage. Now he has no place to "keep" his wife -- probably because she wants to leave him for a guy with a better job, like let's say, a 'Pumpkin Seller.'

4) Georgie Porgie

The Story: A kid named Georgie runs around freaking out girls by trying to kiss them.

What it teaches our kids:
Nothing good. Although Georgie Porgie does show some remorse because, "When the boys came out to play" he high-tails it out of there. But it doesn't erase his aggressive, anti-social behavioral problems. It seems to us the Porgie family ought to seriously consider some sort of therapy, or later in life, Georgie might end up on To Catch a Predator. Just sayin'.

5) Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe

The story: Woman lives in a giant shoe, so overwhelmed by the amount of kids she popped out that she can't feed them and "then whipped them all soundly and put them to bed."

What it teaches our kids:
Here's what it doesn't teach them: Family planning. Plus, how it's OK for this woman to starve and beat her kids without being hauled away by Child Services? This one might be the saddest most disturbing nursery rhyme of all time. Oh, and here's yet another negative: if your little girl is into "The Old Woman in The Shoe" for the footwear, she might end up as a lonely shoe-obsessed woman just like Carrie Bradshaw.

next: Birth Certificates for Stillborns?
23 comments so far | Post a comment now
Jen E June 18, 2008, 1:38 PM

But Carrie Bradshaw isn’t lonely anymore… lol otherwise I agree. :)

cmj June 18, 2008, 1:49 PM

This is hilarious.

“Anytime you’ve got three adult men taking a bath together, you got trouble.”

so funny.

Tonyamama June 18, 2008, 1:50 PM

I think all nursery rhymes are creepy. I stopped reading them to my kids. They’re not missing out on anything by not hearing stories of jack and jill bashing their heads falling down a hill.

Elizabeth June 18, 2008, 1:53 PM

C’mon, reviewing nursery rhymes that were written sometime in the 1800’s?! Like anything else, a parent should be responsible for what their child reads, watches, plays with, etc.. If you take these nursery rhymes to heart for exactly what they say, of course the message is not exactly ‘2008’. I love reading Mother Goose to my daughter. They’re classic and she thinks they’re funny. If and when she questions them for any reason, I’ll explain them to her. Basic and responsible parenting.

Megan June 18, 2008, 2:25 PM

we have a book of rhymes that I find myself skipping half of! how bout the guy with the crooked leg who they throw down the stairs! I’m all for old school but poor humpty dumpty… was there really NOTHING they could do to help him?

Laura June 18, 2008, 8:00 PM

Think back to old fairy tales too! The brothers Grimm who wrote Grimms fairy tales were sick! The original Cinderella has the wicked stepsisters cutting off toes to get their feet into the slipper, and the stepmothers eyes get pecked out by a crow! Talk about creepy…

Anonymous July 15, 2008, 5:20 AM

Haha, overreacting much?
You should have read some of the german fairy tales I managed to get my hands on when I was little; little sucka thumb might given you a heart attack if you think a nonsense poem about three men going to sea in a tub is indecent.

TMD August 22, 2008, 10:34 PM

I fully agree with Elizabeth. Come on now, ladies (& gentlemen…if you’re reading this, too)isn’t life complicated enough? Why take something so innocent and simple as nursery rhymes and make them an issue? It is what it is…they are what they are. These stories are strictly meant for entertainment purposes; not to make political statements or freighten your children.

jana lynch February 10, 2009, 7:54 PM

This is too funny. I’ve never been a fan of nursery rhymes, but I won’t be able to read them the same anymore. I actually wrote an article on my site about your take on nursery rhymes, and directed my readers here. It’s too great not to share!

carol February 21, 2009, 12:26 PM

just read really good

Anonymous June 29, 2009, 6:25 AM

They are nursery rhymes for god sake. Family planning? Anti-social behavioural problems? Thank God my Mum wasn’t like this or else my siblings and I certainly wouldn’t have turned out normal. I agree, stop making nursery rhymes such an issue, get a life and stop being an over-protective mother because your kids will not thank you for it in the long run.

Paula August 24, 2009, 7:08 PM

I can’t tell you how I laughed and cried at the same observations! I won’t even read my kids “Old Woman in the Shoe”. Why would she beat them soundly and send them to bed? They were probably just being kids.

Jamie October 12, 2009, 11:13 AM

Have you read the Owl and the Pussycat??

friend January 9, 2010, 4:22 PM

does that last one remind anyone of octomom??? except for the fact that there’s welfare, disability and child services and reality tv. i guess nursery rhymes still fits in this new age.

meggers February 26, 2010, 3:31 PM

the stories are like this because they’re really old and were used to get at politics with out them knowing. they are representing history and are a nice way to pass it down. sure NOW the lyrics sound screwed up but back THEN they were perfectly normal. nothing was wrong with them and kids had fun singing them. its just a way to pass down history. if your going to get on nursery rhymes you might as well get on older books and history textbooks as well.

A. Pinkerton August 15, 2010, 12:37 PM

WOW this is the stupidest stuff i have ever heard!!! Nursery have been around forever and everyone on this website most likely grew up listening to them!!

Kaitlyn October 9, 2010, 1:30 PM

Here’s the thing,MOST nursery Rhymes have creepy backgrounds. I got this from a website:

Mary Mary quite contrary,

How does your garden grow?

With silver bells and cockleshells

And pretty maids all in a row.

We Thought it Meant…

A cute old woman with an interest in horticulture.

But Some Experts Say…

Queen “Bloody” Mary was popular enough to frequent a number of nursery rhymes, which is pretty impressive all these centuries later. How many nursery rhymes do you appear in? Yeah, that’s what we thought. You need to start doing something with your life.

Anyway, in this delightful tune, Mary is addressed first-hand about all of the poor saps she’s sent to the graveyard (her garden). The silver bells refer to instruments of torture that crushed the thumb with the tightening of a screw, and cockleshells were torture devices that were attached to the genitals.

The maids in the final line allude to the newly invented guillotine, which was nicknamed The Maiden.

They called it “The Maiden” because the first moniker, “Captain Choppy,” never caught on.

Read more:

chris November 12, 2010, 5:40 PM

youve got to be kidding. if thats how you actually interpreted the rhyme about the 3 dudes in a tub you’re seriously damaged

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