When Nursery Rhymes Go Bad.

March 5, 2009 at 9:56 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 23 Comments

Or: Why I Need Remedial Baby Song 101. Do They Have Classes For This?

Example #1:

“Old MacDonald had a farm, EEYIEEYIYOOOO!

And on this farm he had a goat, EEYIEEYIYOOOO!

With a …”

(stops singing)

“Hrm. What DOES a goat say? Baa? No. That’s a sheep. Neigh? Nope. That’s a horse. Goats do eat a lot… maybe just CHOMP CHOMP?

You know what? I have NO IDEA what a goat says.”

(Looking at baby who is now confused as to why I’ve stopped singing.)

“Well, it’s not mommy’s fault. See, she grew up in northern New Jersey, where there weren’t many farms. The MacDonald she knew was a hairdresser.”

Example #2:

“Hush little baby, don’t say a word, mama’s going to buy you a mockingbird,

And if that mockingbird don’t sing,
mama’s going to buy you a diamond ring.

And if that diamond ring don’t shine,
mama’s going to buy you some turpentine.*

And if that turpentine don’t clean, mama’s going to buy you a laser beam.”

(stops singing)

“I mean, seriously. A laser beam? That will make you the COOLEST kid at school. We could zap things with it. Like the fat on mama’s belly. Though maybe that would hurt. Hrm. Ok, maybe we’d just zap bugs and stuff. Slugs too.”


Is it no wonder that Baby O’s favorite song is the Beach Boys’ “Barbara Ann?”

(Which, as an aside, I just had to GOOGLE to get the name of the song. I had no idea it was about a woman. I thought Ba-ba-baran was just random.)

Clearly, I need help.

* I need to specifically make a (belated) call out to my good friend D, who, in fact, was the first person to put the turpentine bug into my ear, since she in fact used to sing the very same song to her daughter. For the life of me I CANNOT get it out of my head. Diamond rings that shine = turpentine to me. Really.



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  1. I’d comment but I’m seriously laughing too hard because this is ME all the time, I hate those songs. I sing Barry Manilow songs, and Simply Red, and Bruce Springsteen to the boys, they get the other stuff at daycare, maybe they can teach US the words LOL!

    Seriously, I have tears rolling down my face I am laughing so hard. SO glad I am not alone!!!!

  2. LOL!!!

    (btw, a goat says MAAAAA)

    “Remedial Baby Songs 101” is called getting CDs of nursery rhymes and playing them until your eyes roll back in your head and you fall asleep in pure boredom. 🙂

  3. Nothing wrong with him knowing all the classics 🙂
    At some point someone will give you a CD with children’s songs and you will learn them then, that’s how it happened with us.
    Now that K is 2, she gives us a song medley:

    The wheels on the bus, go round and round…
    (Wheels on the Bus song)
    Aaaallll the live long day….
    (I’ve been working on the railroad)
    Went up the water spout…
    (Eensy Weensy Spider)
    E, F, G, H, I, J, K…
    (The alphabet song)
    Says move on back!
    (back to The Wheels on the Bus)


  4. Sounds like someone needs the Fisher Price Farmer Says See ‘n Say! 🙂


  5. You can google the lyrics and print them out, then read them as you’re singing. But maybe Baby O’s old enough to notice that’s weird. I don’t know who ever thought Mama’s Going to Buy you a Mockingbird would work.

  6. The only song I consistently sing is the ABC’s. Its the only one that I know the “words” to. My poor kids will be so sheltered from nursery rhymes.

  7. LOL.

    I had troubles when Michael was born–and now, with Willow–its even worse! But the internet helps. Also, taking them to infant/toddler classes (My Gym or the Y) will get you in tune again–Willow’s swim class not only did Wheels on the Bus, but my least favorite–the Hokey Pokey!

    Music wise tho–I do highly recommend They Might Be Giants and Dan Zanes (who plays in Somerville occassionally–we have tickets for his April show). Its music that (1) you can remember the lyrics to and (2) you won’t go crazy.

  8. Oh, and love the Beach Boys pick. We sang Beatles songs to Michael and decided that Willow would be our Beach Boy baby…

  9. Haha, hilarous.
    I don’t think I could remember a nursery rhyme if I tried. We’ll just force our kids to listen to the radio and watch bad TV instead (hypothetically speaking, of course)

  10. HAHAHA!! Funny Serenity!! A laser beam!! That song always trips me up too. Funny, Grace’s favorite song for a while was the Beach Boys’ Don’t Worry Baby. Gotta love them BB.
    Anyone know how Lullaby goes? Lullaby, and goodnight, da da da da da da da……Geez, we should know that one.

  11. Very funny. I looked up the lyrics to the mockingbird song. 🙂

  12. Oh, hilarious, wow you’re funny, Baby O is seriously lucky.

    My goats always went ‘meh,meh,meh’.

    And just to share my bad ear, for quite some time I thought Gwen Stefani’s song was ‘Harlem Black Girl’ (instead of Hollaback Girl). Sheeesh.

  13. Glad there are others that have no idea what words to sing. When ever I get to the diamond part of that lullabye I say “And if that diamond ring don’t shine momma’s gonna buy you a diamond mine.” Then I just stop singing it cause really I have no clue!

    My son prefers when I sing Ray LaMontagne’s “You are the Best Thing.” Figured that one out one day when I could see the little pom on the top of his head bobbing in his car seat one day. I think he has pretty good taste! Now we dance to it before bedtime every night.

    Oh, and hush your mouth, Delenn, the Hokey Pokey is our favorite!! The day care wrote that it was the baby’s favorite back in the fall and we knew why – We both went to Virginia Tech where we do the Hokie Pokey at all our games!

  14. I had no idea that beach boys song was about a woman either.

    We sing a few nursery rhymes. But we also have some FANTASTIC kids’ music CDs that are actually enjoyable for adults to listen to. I highly recommend them:

    Philadelphia Chickens (book/CD)
    Beethoven’s Wig

  15. Thanks for the giggle, Serenity!

  16. I was driving and keeping PB calm in the back seat one day with Old McD, and absentmindedly gave him a hill tribe on his farm. I wasn’t listening to what I was singing until I hit the blank bit where I was supposed to put in what a hill tribe would say.

    But my best bit of ad-libbing is turning a U2 song into a song about wearing pajamas.


  17. LMAO at all the people who didn’t know Barbara Ann was about….Barbara Ann! hahaha hehehe

    ANd I’M like 12 years old here, people! 🙂

    Get Snacktime by the BNL. CLASSSSSSIC.

  18. That is too funny. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve started singing some kind of nursery rhyme song to Lemy only to stop part of the way through because I have no idea how the rest goes. I’ve resorted to just making up random songs with her name it and she LOVES it.

    But I’m with you, if they have a class I desperately need to go! 🙂

  19. Oh please, who sings the actual words to these songs? The written words are just suggestions. I believe that we’re strongly encouraged to make up our own. Personalizing it, I believe that’s called.

    I’ve moved on to the world of napster and making my own CD’s of songs that my son should know. I’ve included KC & the Sunshine Band, Disney classics, Sesame Street, Weird Al Yankovic, etc. I’ll be more than happy to forward the playlists to you if you like. They’re a big hit at my son’s daycare and it’s music that doesn’t make me want a lobotomy, so that’s a plus. 🙂

  20. Joining the “can I ever relate!” crowd. The past couple of weeks have found me using Mother Goose books like reference manuals — and then, later, Googling the history of some of the more bizarre rhymes. Wow, some are really effed up.

    I’ll have to try “Barbara Ann.” Ivy and Nina really like songs with nonsense syllables, so I bet it would work. Especially if I danced like Zach, Screech, and Slater in that Saved by the Bell episode.

  21. If you find that class I’ll take it with you. I found lyrics online with no music, not exactly very helpful either. So I ask my husband to humm it while I try to make the words fit. (He usually knows the tune but not the lyrics.)

    I most often resort to singing the alphabet and wheels on the bus making up my own verses.)

  22. Oh, and I second the philadelphia chickens suggestion. LOVE it. My favorite is the belly button song.

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