When my now nearly 4-year-old daughter Arielle was a toddler, my wife and I were given a cute book of Mother Goose nursery rhymes for her. I thought it was great because I remembered so many of the short verses from my own youth. But as I started to read them, I laughed at how some of these could run afoul of the law if held to modern standards. Meh. It’s just a fictional story, right? These things never REALLY happened, did they?
There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children she didn’t know what to do.
She gave them some broth without any bread.
She whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.
Major Offense(s): Failure to provide adequate food and shelter, Child Abuse
Agency Jurisdiction: Dept. of Child Support Services, Child Protective Services, District Attorney
Questions we never asked: Don’t any of these children have fathers?? What man would allow his children to live in a shoe? Did she give birth to these children, or is she just a foster parent? I mean, she’s too old to have children that young, right?
Jack be nimble.
Jack be quick.
Jack jump over
the candle stick.
Major Offense(s): Child Endangerment
Agency Jurisdiction: Child Protective Services, Local Police Department
Questions we never asked: Why is Jack jumping over an open flame? Where are his parents? Are they on drugs? How many times did Jack, or other abused children, burn their butts?
Rock-a-bye baby, on the treetop,
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock,
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall,
And down will come baby, cradle and all.
Major Offense(s): Child Neglect & Endangerment
Agency Jurisdiction: Child Protective Services
Questions we never asked: How did the baby get in the tree in the first place? Why doesn’t somebody get the baby down BEFORE the bough breaks? Why would you introduce this horrible situation into the mind of a child trying to go to sleep?
And that’s only 3. Don’t even get me started on Jack & Jill. 😉