False Fairytale Idols by Naomi Elana Zener
To the creators of “once upon a time,” “happily ever after” and all of the nursery rhymes in between, did you ever stop and think that the messages you were sending would provide a foundation for a life of disillusionment for children who believed that life would be like a fairytale? Moreover, who was the genius or geniuses responsible for coming up with some of the peppy melodic refrains sung by our children that rejoice in death, disease, and dismemberment? Did these writers suffer from a shared form of depression and/or morbidity of thought? Did they have any idea what lessons their crafty confabulation creations would teach generations of impressionable young minds? Since the list of tales, ditties, and rhymes is too long to exhaust, below are the top 5 fables to help propel your youngster to adulthood faster than a speeding bullet.
Exhibit “A”: The Reason Why Kids Hate Bedtime: “It’s Raining, It’s Pouring, The Old Man is Snoring”
Don’t wake a baby, we’re told. So, too should we respect the slumber of our elders. Except when a concussion is suspected. This man, advanced in age, likely suffering from some ailments that accompany the wear and tear of seniority, went to bed and bumped his head. And, do you know why he couldn’t get up in the morning? Because, when he bumped his head he suffered a massive subdural hematoma resulting in a persistent comatose state that likely lead to death in his sleep.
Countless numbers of parents and caregivers sing this refrain to their babies, setting them up for nightmares for life. The makers of this melody are to blame for children the world over refusing to go to sleep at night. This poor man, possibly someone’s grandfather, just wanted to rest his weary head in his bed—the place we tell our children they are safe—only to fall prey to an innocuous in-home injury that killed him. After hearing his tale of woe, would any adult in their right mind feel safe going to sleep? Hell, in a snoozy state, especially after having imbibed a soothing bottle of milk to lull me to sleep, I’d question whether it’s safe to go to bed, too. I wouldn’t be surprised if babes in arms the world over, upon hearing this song, ponder ‘what happens if I knock my head on a crib rail or my headboard, will I never wake up too?” Yet, parents continue to plague their progeny with this tragic tale. Listen up kids, if your parents try to sing this to you, start crying immediately—crying stops all manner of sins. It’s no wonder that onesies with sayings such as “party in my crib at 2:00a.m.” are so popular and there’s a booming business for sleep doulas. Kids are terrified to go to sleep. Food for thought parents, food for thought.
Exhibit “B”: How to be a Hypochondriac: “Ring Around the Rosie”
We tell our children we want them to be robust and healthy. We rush them to the doctor at the first sniffling sign of infection. Yet, we educate them on how to be a hypochondriac by teaching them through song about one of the biggest killers in history: the Bubonic Plague. Do you know why everyone falls down? It’s because they died of the Black Plague, that pesky disease without inoculation to prevent it, then and now, which virulently spread its seed around Europe, killing somewhere between seventy-five to two hundred million people between 1348 to 1350. “Rosies” mentioned in this number aren’t an infantilized version of a rose, where a ‘y’ sound is suffixed to it, but rather they’re the buboes that formed in a person’s lymph nodes consisting of a black center and encircled by a red rash. If anyone is wondering why kids talk about every ache and pain, and pediatricians’ waiting rooms are full of anxiety addled parents, it’s because they’ve been conditioned to think that a horrible disease is lurking somewhere in the shadows waiting to pounce and attack their bodies. Note to children everywhere: send your psychiatry bill to Mother Goose. That woman was batshit crazy!
Exhibit “C”: Avenue Q Got It Right, Everyone is a Little Bit Racist: “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep”
If orange is the new black, then this nursery rhyme embodies an early form of slavery. Only the black sheep provide the wool for the master, the dame and the little boy down the lane.
Need I say more?
Exhibit “D”: Animal Cruelty & Bullying: “Three Blind Mice”
See how they run, how blind mice run. Really? I think that there must be some provision in human rights legislation across the globe, except for maybe in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, which would dictate that mocking the blind is a no-no. We teach our children to treat people with disabilities and respect, but when it comes to entertaining babies and toddlers, all bets seem to be off. If it wasn’t bad enough that ridiculing these tiny creatures for their lack of vision, the auteur of this song felt that those damn blind mice needed to be taught a lesson. They needed to be maimed. So, in the spirit of “Off with their heads!” children are taught that they must off the mice’s tails with a carving knife! With one stone, this rhyme first teaches children to mock those with a disability, only to then celebrate violence against the physically challenged. As a lawyer, I’d like to dole out this nugget for future reference: to all children out there currently harming animals, or thinking of doing it, thus exhibiting telltale signs that becoming a serial killer is in your professional future, read Mother Goose so you can provide your criminal lawyer with a foundation for your defense against the inevitable charges that will be laid against you. You were brainwashed from infancy to transform into a degenerate. It’s not your fault. It’s Mother Goose’s.
Exhibit “E”: Toxic Relationship Syndrome: Every Princess Out There
For every woman out there who wants to understand why they’ve suffered or continue to suffer from Toxic Relationship Syndrome, look no further than fairytale stories read to you in childhood. In every fairytale, in which the princess finds her Prince Charming, it comes at a high price: loss of self-esteem and dignity, bullying, and externally imposed pressure to be beautiful and accomplished only to be punished for said attributes.
Rapunzel, Cinderella, Snow White, Aurora, Ariel—the list of victims goes on and on and on. All of these women were victims of an extreme form of girl-on-girl bullying, generally at the hands of their step-mommy dearests or some horrible witch, body dysmorphia—have you seen how tiny their wastes were, and lack of self-confidence. In today’s society, we most commonly observed these types of behaviours in many online mom forums where, heaven forbid you disagree with someone, you suffer the wrath of the cabal of angry women who berate you for your viewpoint and label you a bad mother or worse, ganging up on you to take you down. Women are conditioned to do this by learning about these hostile tactics in childhood. Snow White was poisoned. Ariel got laryngitis for love (thankfully, not due to an STD). Cinderella was locked in a tower with mice whose feces carried the deadly, viral hemmorhagic fever disease. Aurora was put into a coma. Rapunzel was forced to live in a tower and grow her hair out by her fake kidnapper mommy, with no form of escape, and forced to live with likely lice-infested knotted hair (there’s no way she kept that clean in a tower that didn’t have running water). Then, to make matters worse, girls are told that the only way that these women (really girls) can be saved is by a man. And not just any man, he must be a prince who’s handsome, charming, wealthy, tall, coiffed, and smart. Only then, can women live happily ever after. Nice. These formative female “role models” predispose all young girls who read them to cast themselves in the female protagonist role of victim, setting them up for a lifetime of pernicious relationships. None of these stories speak of the need for females to have intelligent minds let alone the ability to self-rescue. When these girls do grow up and finally find the “one,” fifty percent of the women who married their supposed Prince Charming (or Princess Charmante) ended up divorced. Well-played fairytales. Well-played.
Exhibit “F”: Why Men are Womanizers: “I Love Little Pussy”
Further to Exhibit “E,” ladies, if you don’t understand the origins of the player, all you have to do is read the composition below, and every bad date, relationship, and possibly even marriage that you’ve ever had or entered into will make sense.
I love little pussy,
Her coat is so warm,
And if I don’t hurt her,
She’ll do me no harm.
So I’ll not pull her tail,
Nor drive her away,
But pussy and I,
Very gently will play.
She shall sit by my side
And I’ll give her some food;
And pussy will love me
Because I am good.
I’ll pat pretty pussy,
And then she will purr;
And thus show her thanks
For my kindness to her.
I’ll not pinch her ears,
Nor tread on her paw,
Lest I should provoke her
To use her sharp claw.
I never will vex her
Nor make her displeased:
For pussy don’t like
To be worried and teased.
On a final note, for all of my lawyer colleagues reading this, I’m convinced that the law of negligence based the “eggshell skull rule” on Humpty Dumpty. In the incomparable words of Edward R. Murrow, I wish parents and children good night, and good luck—may your bedtime poetry and prose be free from pestilence, poison, passing, and patriarchy.
© 2015. Naomi Elana Zener. All Rights Reserved.