Last night I was reading a book of nursery rhymes to Oliver before putting him to bed. This has become something that I enjoy tremendously, not so much for the father-son bonding, but for the fact that so many of our beloved nursery rhymes are actually very, very disturbing.
Here’s a favorite that I read to him three times in a row because I couldn’t quite get over what I was reading:
Goosey goosey gander,
Whither shall I wander?
Upstairs and downstairs
And in my lady’s chamber.
There I met an old man
Who wouldn’t say his prayers,
So I took him by his left leg
And threw him down the stairs.
Certainly all of us agree that the protagonist in this tale took the proper, prudent course of action. He came upon an elderly man and ordered him to pray. The man refused. The old man was then tossed down the stairs to his death. John Calvin himself couldn’t have done any better.
I did a bit of research about this and it turns out it dates back to the days when Oliver Cromwell and his boys were driving the Catholics out of England (the old man in question didn’t say his prayers in English, he said them in Latin like a common, cross-eyed papist).
No matter. The fact that this story is printed in children’s books in 2010 without context is amusing enough for me. For now, I will put my little Oliver Cromwelle to bed with a lovely rhyme about intolerance and violence to the elderly.
Best dad ever? It’s too early to say.
(But I’m probably in the conversation.)