When everything was so nice and life was all about getting candy and worrying about how to get another candy, then, nursery rhymes were sweet. Nobody knew or cared about what they meant or where they originated from. Nursery rhymes were fun. Ignorance, as they say, can be bliss.
Today things are a little different. Nowadays people question the basis of hitherto acceptable norms. Breaking the image barriers is a trend of the society and this changing social perspective has trickled down to nursery rhymes too.
Criticizing Nursery Rhymes
Sadly, the origin of the nursery rhymes is quite bleak (Mary Mary quite contrary). The phrases poke fun at people who are less than perfect (Humpty Dumpty). Innocent minds are subjected to descriptions about diseases (Ring a ring o roses). Children are being told in a light vein about abusive relationships (pumpkin eater, Had a wife and couldn’t keep her).
Alterations in Nursery Rhymes
So what is the solution? Some mothers are changing the words of the rhymes to suit their little daughters’ needs.
Another case in point is of Little Sheep’ replacing the word black by a primary school. There’s even a ‘Baba Rainbow Sheep’ and a ‘Baba Green Sheep’.
Giving the classic rhymes a new age twist is gaining fans and rebuttal.
For instance, here’s an updated version of and Jill
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.
Jill sued Jack and Jack sued back,
The judge is going to fine her;
Now the pail’s been sent to jail
For abandoning a minor.
We’ll sue Jack and he’ll sue Jill,
The hill is suing for scandal;
The water says he’ll sue the press –
And everyone’s suing the handle.
Nursery Rhymes Across the World
The world of nursery rhymes is not limited to the West although the influence of the western countries rhymes over their counterparts is huge. Some rue about not having professional rhyme writers saying that the lack of young writers has widened the gap between the children and the rhymes. This, in turn, has led to parents in China prefer rhymes from Europe and the US.
In India, some schools have changed the traditional rhyme of ‘fish is the queen of water’ by replacing ‘if you take out fish from the water it dies’ to a more sensitive ‘it sleeps’.
Changing Social Trends
The classic appeal of rhymes has its own fan-following however, there is an attitudinal shift from nursery rhymes to children’s stories and AV portrayal of stories with special effects. However, the violence in cartoon shows like Tom and Jerry and the dragons and wicked, evil queens in fairy tales are not helping.
In Favor of Nursery Rhymes
Not all people criticize classic rhymes. BBC faced harsh criticism for displaying politically correct message in its TV show when it altered Humpty Dumpty to a more positive change. Instead of saying that Humpty Dumpty was not put together again, the show stated ‘And all the King’s horses and all the King’s men; made Humpty Dumpty happy again’. Whereas some people thought that nursery rhymes portray life as it is, others maintained that children don’t take these rhymes seriously enough to be negatively affected by them.
So, the people, today, are sensitive but not for the sake of being politically correct. Being honest and genuine comes first, whether it is a social trend or a nursery rhyme.