Saturday, February 28, 2009

Nursery Rhymes


It is common knowledge that “Ring Around the Rosies” is really about the black plague. “Pop Goes the Weasel” is about hat makers in London. All of these nursery rhymes come from somewhere.I was reading Mary Englebrieit’s Mother Goose today with Natalie (a fabulous book, by the way). I really connected with the old woman who lives in a shoe. I bet there’s a story behind that one. My imagination has filled in the blanks.

I bet the mom wrote it herself. I bet she felt older than she was due to a lack of sleep and overall exhaustion. I’m going to guess that she was in her late 20’s or thereabout. I think the living in a shoe thing was a metaphor because she felt like her kids walked all over her. I even know how many kids she had. She had three.

When you have one kid crying, you hold him or her. If you have two crying children, there’s room on Mom’s lap for both. I bet every mom who has ever had three children crying at the same time has exclaimed, baffled, “I have so many children, I don’t know what to do!”


Don’t get me wrong. I love my kids, speaking of them individually and not collectively. Every day I have at least some one-on-one time with each of them, and I can look into their innocent little faces and marvel at their amazing spirits. They are the greatest treasure that could be entrusted to me.

When you get them all together, though, they turn into the giant three-headed monster “NaLaNore” and wreak all sorts of havoc. If we have to leave for the pediatrician’s office, for example, Natalie will start to cry because she wants to stay home and play with her horse stable, Alana will trip for no discernible reason and clonk her head on the coffee table, and Eleanor will blow out her diaper. While I change the baby, Alana will push a chair to the counter, reach a glass of water, and dump it on her head. As I clean that up, Natalie will remove her shoes and hide them so effectively that I won’t find them for months, the baby will chip away at my sanity by screaming the whole time, and so on and so on. They have some sort of mental telepathy that allows them to coordinate these things.

So hundreds of years ago, a woman was being driven so nuts by her children that when a little incessant voice whined, “Mommy, tell me a story!” over and over, she leaned over and through gritted teeth said, “I’ve got one for you!” I bet by the time she talked about spanking them soundly and sending them to bed, the kid backed off. And in some sick, twisted way, knowing that other moms throughout time have felt the same gut-wrenching frustration that sometimes comes my way makes me feel just a little bit better.

12 comments:

bethany said...

I think this was the best blog post I've ever ready. Anywhere. Hands down.

I can't quite relate (because I don't have three), but I can definitely picture it. :)

North Family Arizona said...

Beth, you are allowed to relate because (and I mean this in the most flattering and complimentary way) Jakson has the energy of at least two kids.

The Crawford's 3 said...

I really like this blog and can certainly agree with the Mother in the Shoe theory. I had 5 and can relate totally!

Jiggle Johnson said...

I love it! I just love it!

Olivia said...

AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mike North said...

I hear ya, i don't have 3 but 2 is plenty tough for me. Good Luck! haha

timmonsfam said...

Loved that so much!!

Diana Hawkins said...

Three definitely takes you to a whole new level of how insane things can get, doesn't it? I never felt that way with two. Mine are spaced further apart, so I'm sure I can't even quite relate completely ... but as I read this perfect post I just kept thinking, "Amen. AMEN." That, and "I'm so glad I'm not the only one who uses the gritted teeth method of communication on That Sort of Day." :)

tearese said...

okay...now I'm not sure this other baby is a good idea! Jk.Love that baby picture, by the way.
And I thought Pop Goes the Weasle was about Weaving, because throwing the shuttle between the layers of threads is called "Popping the Weasle?"

Holly North said...

Tearese—Well, a guy in London who seemed to me to be well versed on the subject said it relates back to hat makers. They also refer to their big pins as "weasels" and so they made a pop sound as they stitched through the hat. He gave me lots more detail that I don't remember. Of course I've heard different lyrics and interpretations (Cockney rhyming slang for pawning off your coat for money) which also seem believable. Well, I don't know for sure but at least it came from something real somewhere in London. And as far as the extra child, it really is already getting easier with the three of them. It's hardest at the beginning when you're getting into the swing of things. I'm already going to multiple stores with all three of them and surviving:) We figure a newborn equals a few months of torture (hey, sleep deprivation is used as torture!) and then getting used to it and then they really get fun. They're really cute when they're small, though, even if they aren't as accommodating as I would like.

Holly North said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tearese said...

holly- Oh, I'm sure there are multiple meanings! I learned it from a weaving teacher. In fact on Wikipedia it mentions even more versions
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pop_goes_the_weasel

......

One interpretation of "Pop Goes the Weasel" is that it is about silk weavers working with their shuttle or bobbin (known as a "weasand" or "weasel"). Another interpretation derives from the need for the poor working class to have to "pop" their coats (weasels and stoats in rhyming slang): that is, taken them to a pawnbroker to obtain money for drinking. Another possibility is that "weasel" is a corruption of "whistle" and means "suit" (in this case being derived from "whistle and flute"). In either interpretation, the rhyme describes the pawning of the worker's only valuable items — the "Sunday best" clothing — after exhausting the week's wages on the food items such as rice and treacle, which, though cheap, were and are fundamentally useless to anyone if the buyer is poor and has nothing to eat them with. It is thought, however, that early "quack" doctors would have prescribed treacle as a sort of medicine[citation needed], and gullible purchasing workers that were prone to illness due to exposure would doubtless have spent their savings on trying to maintain their and their children's health.