UPDATE! Stick A Needle in My Eye? Not Anymore!

Hey Readers — The American Studies major in me can’t get enough of the way language changes with the culture. At my lectures (book me!) I always point out what someone once noted right here: “Arrival” and “dismissal” at school have morphed into “drop-off” and “pick-up.” Inherent in those new terms is the idea that an adult is, of course, always with the child. The new terms define the normal culture. And now look at this:

Dear Free-Range Kids: “Cross my heart and hope to die/ Stick a needle in my eye,” has been changed. My kids know, “Cross my heart and hope to fly. Stick a cupcake in my eye.” – A Reader

I guess so many kids were sticking needles in their eyes, we simply HAD to change the rhyme. But really, what’s so disgusting about this change is that it assumes — once again — that while every previous generation could chant the old rhyme without becoming terrified, suicidal or eye-maiming, this generation is so  endangered, it needs to be protected from even the sing-song suggestion of harm. 

Sheesh. This is the same mentality that believes that when children point a pencil and go “Bang!” is is practically the same thing as kids shooting each other.  We are becoming so literal, I could throw up.

Wait!! I don’t really need that bag! – L

UPDATE: Commenters are noting that the new words come directly from My Little Pony, which to me just means that some TV exec didn’t think anyone could say, “Stick a needle in my eye” on a kiddie show, which is in itself a sign of the times. But at least it’s not what all kids are saying now. – L.

All eyes on cultural hysteria!


62 Responses to UPDATE! Stick A Needle in My Eye? Not Anymore!

  1. pentamom May 20, 2013 at 9:08 pm #

    What the heck does “cross my heart and hope to fly” mean anyway? The whole point is that you were wishing something unpleasant upon yourself if you failed to honor the promise.

  2. 20percentcooler May 20, 2013 at 9:23 pm #

    I can answer this. This is from a children’s cartoon called “My Little Pony; Friendship is Magic.” My nieces watch it all the time, and the characters do this rhyme. This has nothing to do with children being sheltered, it’s just a rhyme one of the characters (who likes cupcakes) made up. The little girls just probably picked it up from that.

    I’m all for free range kids, but please, let’s try and get our facts straight before we label everything as over protecting.

  3. 20percentcooler May 20, 2013 at 9:29 pm #

    I mean, think about it. If it were truly child-sheltering the rhyme wouldn’t involve sticking ANYTHING in one’s eye, or “hoping to fly,” as with most people’s logic, this might provoke a child to actually try and fly off the roof.

  4. katrin May 20, 2013 at 9:31 pm #

    I was always amused by parents that refused to sing the line in Rock a bye baby ” when the bough breaks, the baby will fall” As though the mere mention of falling will traumatize the poor infant or toddler.

  5. lihtox May 20, 2013 at 9:40 pm #

    @katrin: I always figured Rock-a-bye Baby was written to let parents get out a little bit of that pent-up frustration when the baby just isn’t falling asleep. Babies can really piss their parents off sometimes, and it’s nice to have a traditional song that acknowledges that. :)

    And 20percentcooler is right, btw: it’s from My Little Pony (I think it’s called a “Pinkie Promise” named after Pinkie Pie, though other ponies use it too), and it’s a non-issue here. Come to think of it, while it’s hard to tell the ages of cartoon ponies, the show does feature three kid ponies who have their own clubhouse and go gallavanting all over the place on their own. So free-range friendly! :)

  6. Lib May 20, 2013 at 9:50 pm #

    Its from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, where one of the main characters is an (annoying) cupcake-baking ditzy loud character.

    Its not taught to kids as a safe alternative.

    Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar. :-)

  7. Ellen May 20, 2013 at 10:01 pm #

    I went to a baby story time at our local library when my son was a infant. they did lots of rhymes and songs. And they changed the last line of “Where is Thumbkin” from “run away” to “run and play” because heaven forbid we encourage that kind of thing in our non-mobile babies! I refused to sing it that way.

  8. Jet May 20, 2013 at 10:33 pm #

    I’m glad to see other parents stopping in to advise that this isn’t a case of sanitizing an old standby, but more a matter of updating the old standby to make sense in a different world — one where some ponies fly and cupcakes are practically currency.

  9. A Cavanagh May 20, 2013 at 10:34 pm #

    Whenever “Stick a cupcake in my eye” is said the character responsible for the rhyme pokes herself in eye and says “ouch!”. It’s not a safer example by any stretch of the imagination.

    I think this is more a case of pop-culture absorption and likely won’t have sticking power.

  10. Beth May 20, 2013 at 11:29 pm #

    Well, when I was a child in the 60’s, my parents changed the words of the “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep” prayer. Instead of “if I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take” we said “Guide me through the starry night and wake me with the morning light.”

    I don’t know if my folks made that up or not, but my mom always said the dying part sounded morbid to her.

  11. Emily May 20, 2013 at 11:38 pm #

    I can see “stick a FINGER in my eye” as a substitute for “stick a needle in my eye,” but “stick a cupcake in my eye” sounds ridiculous. Also, “cross my heart and hope to fly” doesn’t make any sense either, because flying is a positive thing. Actually, this whole thing may be moot, because I don’t think I’ve ever heard a kid reciting that rhyme, in its original form or otherwise. Maybe it’s a regional thing, or maybe it fell out of favour before my childhood, but my peers and I would seal promises with a pinky swear, rather than with a rhyme.

  12. CrazyCatLady May 20, 2013 at 11:42 pm #

    My Little Pony, or Barney, I hate all of those shows that change the traditional sayings/songs to suit a commercial purpose.

    On the other hand, I really loved one of the songs on Sesame Street where Ernie sings “I Don’t Want To Live on the Moon.”

  13. Emily May 21, 2013 at 12:29 am #

    I agree with CrazyCatLady. Old-school Sesame Street was the best. :)

  14. lihtox May 21, 2013 at 12:32 am #

    @Emily: It’s supposed to be ridiculous.

    @Beth: I learned it as
    Now I lay me down to sleep,
    I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
    In the morning light I wake,
    Show me the path of love to take.

  15. Nerd-faced Girl May 21, 2013 at 2:11 am #

    Please don’t compare MLP with Barney. Pinkie Pie said cupcakes because she’s all about cupcakes. She wouldn’t have said finger; ponies don’t have fingers. The ‘hope to fly’ bit is pretty silly, but not offensive.

    Not so offensive as Barney’s “Here we go Luby-Loo” which I learned as “Loopty-loo” which at least makes sense, because loops. You change loops to lube and you get something a little suggestive, especially “all on a Saturday night.”

    But I am in the perfect age group to hate Barney (my baby sister loved it; yech!) yet love MLP (my own daughters), so I’ll admit my bias right now.

  16. Tom May 21, 2013 at 6:57 am #

    While some of the articles here are good examples of overprotectedness in our communities… there are many, many examples of the author being out of touch with reality. Here’s another one: “some TV exec didn’t think anyone could say…” — really? It’s a silly kids TV show and doesn’t have anything to do with kiddie protection.

    I’d rather they’re playing outside, but as a whole TV is much *more* desensitizing to violence now than 30 or 50 years ago. *This* show is not *that* problem.

  17. Obi-Wandreas May 21, 2013 at 7:19 am #

    It should be noted that Pinkie Pie is able to poke herself in the eye without any ill effect, but others injure themselves while attempting to do so; she is much more a Warner Bros style character than the rest. Given the choice between teasing a balrog and breaking an oath to her, I would advise you to choose the former. The character is a baker, party planner, and free spirit who is essentially responsible for maintaining the morale of the entire town. She also has a photographic memory (able to remember the contents of a book that fell on her head), the ability to sense immediate disasters, and is quite skilled in hand-to-hand combat.

    My daughter is a huge fan of the show, and it is actually quite free-range. There are three very young characters who have their own clubhouse and constantly roam around together unsupervised. This despite the fact that the village borders on a forest populated with creatures ranging from hydras to manticores. These characters are constantly trying new things, in order to determine what they should be when they grow up. Despite the often comically disastrous results, they are never discouraged from trying something new just because they might get hurt. Children are encouraged to work alongside adults and to run around on their own.

    Overall, the show is a very good influence for kids, though the character names alone pretty much preclude any boys from being interested in it.

  18. tesyaa May 21, 2013 at 7:27 am #

    IMO, changing “when the bough breaks” is not to protect the feelings of little babies, but to protect the feelings of parents who have been brought up with religion or spiritualism, and somehow still believe that if you mention something bad, that bad thing will happen. It’s rampant in Jewish families (cf evil eye), and probably others.

  19. BMS May 21, 2013 at 7:39 am #

    If you stick a cupcake in your eye, you’re doing it wrong. Try a little lower…

  20. Uly May 21, 2013 at 7:43 am #

    1. Here we go looby-loo, with those words, absolutely predates Barney.

    2. You guys ARE aware that most of these rhymes and songs come from oral tradition, meaning that there are many variations and none is more definitive or “correct” just because you heard it when you were little, right?

    3. Somebody is bound to bring this up now that we got started, so lets nip this one in the bud right now: Ring around the Rosie has nothing to do with the plague, and the most widespread set of words right now isn’t the same as the first recorded set.

  21. Taradlion May 21, 2013 at 7:56 am #

    Even if the kids got the “new safer” version of this rhyme from a show, there were lots of playground jingles that would probably land kids in trouble these days. How about…

    Bang, bang you’re dead
    50 bullets in your head
    Brush your teeth
    And go to bed…


    Crack an egg on your head
    Feel the yolk ooze down
    Stab a knife in your back and
    Feel the blood ooze down
    Spiders running up your back
    Spiders running down
    Squish squash apple sauce
    Now you’ve got the chills

    (And that one requires touching!)

    Writing them out, they do seem morbid, but we said these rhymes at school and at camp (where we also told ghost stories)….

    Looney toons and Tom and Jerry had characters banging each other over the head, Popeye had the big bully and fist fights. Now we are using cupcakes?Even without violence, kids shows are way different. Think the Little Rascals, Codename:Kids Next Door…even old school Sesame Street DVDs are marked “not for kids”….

    Point being, even if this specific example is not one of sanitizing what kids see or say, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

  22. Emily May 21, 2013 at 8:42 am #

    Taradion–I remember the second rhyme, except you forgot the chorus. It goes, “Concentrate! Concentrate! People are dying, children are crying, concentrate! Concentrate!” Then, it goes into each verse–crack an egg on your back, stab a knife in your back, etc. I don’t remember the spiders or applesauce part, but these things are passed on verbally by kids, and rarely written down, so there’s bound to be some deviation.

  23. pentamom May 21, 2013 at 9:12 am #

    On the update: I don’t even think the point is that the TV producers thought the traditional version was too mean — it’s that their version of the rhyme is the one little ponies would use in little pony world.

  24. Michelle May 21, 2013 at 10:27 am #

    While I thought this version was *stupid* when I first heard it, it’s hard to watch MLP and think anything has been sanitized. It’s definitely not as sugar-sweet as the version I watched in the 80s. I seriously don’t think anyone is afraid for ponies to say the word “die,” as I’ve definitely heard at least one of them freak out and be all over-dramatic about something, including “we’re all gonna die!”

    For the person who said that the names alone preclude boys liking the show, I guess you haven’t heard about “bronies.” That’s what boy fans, like my teenaged son, are called. It’s silly, IMO.

    When my older kids were little, they were given little dolls that said the bedtime prayer like this:

    Now I lay me down to sleep
    I pray the Lord my soul to keep
    May angels watch me through the night
    And keep me safe to morning light

    Since the kids wanted to pray with their dolls, we said it that way, and just added in at the end:

    If I should die before I wake
    I pray the Lord my soul to take

  25. Rachel May 21, 2013 at 10:54 am #

    I would just like to say that the image of someone sticking a cupcake in their eye keeps making me laugh! Please note, in my image, it’s one of those cupcake with more frosting than cake and the person is smashing it into their eye in a manner similar to a frat boy smashing a beer can into their forehead. Also, the frosting is bright pink, but no sprinkles or glitter-that could hurt your eyes :)

  26. 20percentcooler May 21, 2013 at 11:10 am #

    @michelle – yes, I admit to being a brony (where do you think my user name came from?) and I’m a 16 year old girl – pegasister, technically. You all should check it out

  27. Warren May 21, 2013 at 11:40 am #

    It is all just getting out of hand…..

    Santa no longer can smoke his pipe
    Humpty Dumpty has been banned in someplaces

    I am just waiting for them to get around to censoring Bambi, so Bambi’s mom doesn’t die.

  28. twentysixletters May 21, 2013 at 12:33 pm #

    @Warren – I doubt they will censor Bambi like that. We all cried when Bambi’s mom died (and when when we watch the movie, still do,) but that’s what mad it nostalgic. I doubt they’d cut out something that was a part of someone’s childhood

  29. Warren May 21, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

    How is it different from changing Santa’s pipe, or Humpty being put back together? Or the fact that every Looney Tunes cartoon comes with a warning longer than the Resident Evil series?

    No Bambi won’t be altered, it will just not be shown.

    We had it out with my oldest daughter’s high school. Actually I had nothing to do with it, the students took care of it. They wanted to remove certain books for politcal correctness. Not from the library, that was still freedom of choice, but they wanted to make a list of books not eligible for assignments. Their rational being the assignments may be presented to the class, or displayed for the school, thus not giving the students the freedom of avoiding them.
    One of them was “Taming of the Shrew”, because the word Shrew was insulting to women. The students confronted the school, and told them they were not going to return to the days of book burning censorship, and that the student body would take action against the school. They won.
    Politcal correctness/uber safety/helicoptering parents, all will be our downfall. Traditions, heritage and history are all at risk.
    The most hilarious one of late, is that any movie that has anyone smoking in it, is automatically rated R. That is how bad it is becoming.

  30. Papilio May 21, 2013 at 2:06 pm #

    I only know “Cross my heart and hope to get spanked until my bottom goes purple”… (Queen Elizabeth in Blackadder II, ep 6)

    All these sanitized nursing rhymes remind me of the far more wicked songs we sang in recess in primary school, standing in a circle and clapping hands etc, for example changing the song of the dwarfs in Snow White into ‘hey ho, hey ho, this is how you f**k’ (it would rhyme in Dutch), followed by an explanation of the required actions to start a new family that was so rude the teachers scolded us for it once they found out what we had been singing all those weeks…
    Aaahh, the innocence of children…! 😀

  31. f May 21, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

    In fairness to My Little Pony, it should be noted that hoofed animals would probably have less difficulty with the controlled manipulation of a cupcake than a needle.

  32. Emily May 21, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

    I thought the “sanitized” version of Humpty Dumpty went, “All the king’s horses, and all the king’s men, tried to put Humpty together again,” whereas the original version was “couldn’t put Humpty together again.” Even in the sanitized version, it’s still ambivalent as to whether the people’s efforts were successful.

  33. Warren May 21, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

    Just glad my parents were not like the ones trying to sanitze the world. They would have had to quit their jobs just to stay up with, my music.

    Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Zeppelin, Jimi, Stevie, Pink Floyd and on and on. Had the huge speakers, that only got cranked when the parents were away.

  34. Donald May 21, 2013 at 6:58 pm #

    Until now the best one that I heard was, “Ba Ba Rainbow Sheep. The nursery rhyme was changed so that it wouldn’t prompt a racial issue.

    3 blind mice nursery rhyme was also changed to, ……she cut them some cake with a carving knife…….

  35. 20percentcooler May 21, 2013 at 8:10 pm #

    Uh, Lenore…there’s a difference between being overprotective and just giving an alternative to a favorite rhyme

  36. Natalie May 21, 2013 at 10:09 pm #

    We need to bring back the original fairy tales. Anyone familiar with how the ugly stepsisters managed to fit their feet inside the glass slipper?

  37. Emily May 21, 2013 at 11:50 pm #

    @Natalie–Yes, I do remember that. Also, in the original Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks jumped out the second-story bedroom window, and was never seen again. The story doesn’t say outright that she died, but it elaborates on possibilities–maybe she broke her leg, maybe she died, or maybe she was just so scared that she ran away. In that version of the story, the bears were much less anthropomorphized, and they growled and snapped at Goldilocks like they wanted to eat her. In the story I remember from my youth, the bears chased Goldilocks down the stairs and out the front door, and she simply ran away. In a contemporary version of the story on the children’s cartoon “Super Readers” (which I saw while waiting for something else to start), the bears get upset with Goldilocks for making a mess, but then she apologizes and cleans up the mess, and all is well.

  38. Kaye May 22, 2013 at 1:37 am #

    The British kids here all sing “Ring Around the Rosie” :

    Ring around the rosie
    Pocket full of posie
    *A tissue, a tissue*
    We all fall down

    but in my American childhood I learned

    Ring around the Rosie
    Pocket full of Posie
    *Ashes, ashes*
    We all fall down

    Ashes removed to avoid the alleged plauge reference? Or have they always said tissue?

  39. Tara Watson May 22, 2013 at 2:47 am #

    Holy Moly!

    Your comment about ‘arrival’ and ‘dismissal’ morphing into ‘drop off’ and ‘pick-up’ has just FLOORED ME.

    You see, my work involves encouraging families to allow their kids to walk or cycle more to school and to stop habitually using the car.

    I’ve been doing this for over 8 years now and have been using the language of drop-off and pick-up in conversation with parents, teachers and students.

    But now I can see that using the terms of arrival and dismissal is a small but fundamental shift in thinking.

    THANKS Lenore. That’s freakin awesome.

  40. KyohakuKeisanki May 22, 2013 at 2:59 am #

    Wow… wow… uh, I don’t know where to begin here. I was reading this and noticed the saying… first off this is from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. It is a TV show made by the creator of The Powerpuff Girls and Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends and based very loosely around Hasbro’s My Little Pony toy franchise. The fact that the show avoids “girliness” (the creator is a feminist herself) and shows a wide variety of well-developed characters has given it possibly the largest peripheral demographic following of any TV show; it is the 9th most active fandom (defined here as a community based on a specific intellectual property of some sort) on college-male-dominated aggregator site Reddit.

    The show is not trying to bowdlerize anything; in fact its creator would probably be very averse to any type of pure censorship. In this case, it is another silly joke (made by the character known for being quite silly) which places a well-known saying into the world of Equestria. Some ponies, called pegasi, are able to fly. Pinkie Pie is an Earth pony, so for her to fly she would have to totally change her kind, which is impossible (unless there is some sort of reincarnation, in which case fly and die mean the same thing for her, but that is not mentioned in the series at all). Cupcakes are often made by the characters, most notably by Pinkie Pie in a song sequence. This line from the show is no more an attempt at censorship than the line “Float like a Butterfree, sting like a Beedrill” which is found in one episode of Pokémon. The TV exec most definitely did not decide to censor with that; it would actually be more out of place for a character as goofy as Pinkie Pie to say the original than this version. The edit of the saying was made because it is the type of thing this character would say; it is called good television writing and character development, not bigwigs messing with scripts after they’ve been written in order to “protect” kids.

    After reading the comments I realize a lot of people already said this, but there needed to be a little more background information explaining that even Lenore’s edit is incorrect and mentioning that the creator would not want anything to be bowdlerized.

    Also, 20percentcooler: At first you said your nieces watch the show… I was going to respond with “Your name seems to suggest it’s not just your nieces” then I saw your later comment attesting to the reality. /)

  41. Kay May 22, 2013 at 9:38 am #

    First thing I thought of reading this is the softening of the bedtime prayer, too. “If I should die before I wake…” My mother gave my children those prayer stuffed animals saying the “the angels watch me through the night until I wake in the morning light.”

    As for My Little Pony, mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be “bronies”.

  42. Warren May 22, 2013 at 9:54 am #

    When you think about it, softening, or editing, or censoring old fairy tales, fables, rhymes and prayers is so much a waste of time and effort.

    These people are worried about their kids hearing “If I shoul die before I wake”, not realizing their kids just played Call of Duty or Assasins Creed for hours at their friends place, that night.

  43. KyohakuKeisanki May 22, 2013 at 10:23 am #

    Warren: Good point. A bit on a tangent, but why is it more acceptable to hold a video game controller like a gun than it is to hold a PENCIL like one? Both are perfectly innocuous objects (though the video game controller may get damaged due to being thrown against the wall one too many times)

  44. Suzanne May 22, 2013 at 12:53 pm #

    Lenore, you cracked me up – I had a air sickenss baggie all ready to express mail to you, I am so glad you clarified that you weren’t really going to throw up! You are my hero.

  45. Brenna May 22, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

    Being a fan of My Little Pony, I disagree with your conclusion about the TV show creators thinking the needle was “too dangerous” for a kid’s show. The character who coined the cupcake part, Pinkie Pie, is this goofy little party-loving pony, and as she says cupcake she actually stabs her hoof into her eye. (Later, when another pony is making the same promise, the rhyme is interrupted by her saying “ow” after she is required to hit her eye.)

    Surely this makes the rhyme much more dangerous than a metaphorical needle that doesn’t come anywhere close to being a real danger to kids and their eyes.

  46. twentysixletters May 22, 2013 at 4:59 pm #

    @Kay – What’s the matter with teenage boys liking ponies? They were named best fandom of TV Tropes, because bronies have been known to be kind and tolerate others as a result of them liking a show about ponies. I should know. My brother and I are bronies. Many bronies have even posted pictures online of getting other people from the fandom together to build houses, collect charity donations, etc, while wearing My Little Pony shirts to show our support.

    Who knows? After seeing this, we might encourage our kids to be more free-range.

  47. Rachel May 23, 2013 at 2:52 am #

    I`ve meet Bronies that where sexist,racist and/or prejudges. Don’t believe me then go to /mlp/. I saw some Bronies push another to commit suicide on there as well.

    Liking some show or not makes little or no difference in who that person is. You can be a good or bad person if you watch the show or not.

    Like keeping anything controversial or violent away from your child is not going to sure you that you wont have a delinquent or violent child. As well as tv show morals often fail as well. Teaching the kid yourself will always have more importance then some tv show or other form of media.

  48. Uly May 23, 2013 at 8:04 am #

    Kaye, the a-tishoo! version definitely predates the ashes version, but not by very long. Neither of them is the first recorded version, or even the most widespread one until recently! And, again, there is absolutely no connection to the plague.

    Until now the best one that I heard was, “Ba Ba Rainbow Sheep. The nursery rhyme was changed so that it wouldn’t prompt a racial issue.
    3 blind mice nursery rhyme was also changed to, ……she cut them some cake with a carving knife…….

    Was it changed for racial reasons? Or just so that when singing to preschoolers you can sneak in a lesson about colors? Not everything has a creepy ulterior motive, some of them are just normal ulterior motives.

    As far as three blind mice goes, the oldest recorded version is nothing like you think. One might as well ask why we stopped singing about Dame Julienne and exhorting others to lick the knife!

  49. pentamom May 23, 2013 at 11:55 am #

    Uly, since I can’t quite imagine how substituting the word “rainbow” for the word “black” actually teaches kids anything about colors, I really do find it more plausible that resistance to the word “black” is more the issue here (particularly since that wrecks the meter of the song, as well.) What the precise thinking behind the resistance is, we can’t really know.

  50. pentamom May 23, 2013 at 11:56 am #

    At least that explains why my nieces and nephew, who have a British grandmother, always sang that “a-tishoo” version.

  51. Uly May 23, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

    Who said anything about “substituting the word rainbow for black”? You sing black sheep, then pull out another color, identify it, and sing about red sheep, green sheep, and so on. You use a rainbow of sheep. Also, it takes longer.

  52. Uly May 23, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

    I just can’t help thinking that if the goal was simply to avoid singing about the word black they would just sing a different song altogether. It’s not like there aren’t zillions of nursery rhymes and children’s songs to sing. If you don’t like baa baa black sheep you can try Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star or the ABCs. Or, I don’t know, that one about the frogs on the log eating bugs.

  53. 20percentcooler May 23, 2013 at 1:03 pm #

    I’ll probably get crucified for saying this, but I don’t think updated rhymes are part of any child protection conspiracy. I think that things just evolve over time.

    And even if newer versions WERE taught to kids as a safer alternative, or even if they just evolved at play group, I think we should let our kids decide which one they like to say. While I believe in Free-Range Kids, I also believe in kids who decide what they like for themselves, not being told to like one version over the other for any reason. It takes all the fun out of it, if you ask me.

    Maybe they sing “Baa Baa Rainbow Sheep” because rainbows are more appealing to four year olds because rainbows are more fun than the color black. Or maybe the three blind mice were given cake because kids like cake.

    As long as you’re not getting snapped at by other moms who are overly concerned about you teaching your daughter about the original black sheep or tailless mice, I see no problem with teaching your kids both old and new and letting them decide which to use.

  54. pentamom May 23, 2013 at 3:34 pm #

    That still doesn’t teach kids anything about color. Singing about colors doesn’t teach you about colors, really.

    But you may be right that it isn’t necessarily about avoiding “black.” Still the answer to “why would they just not sing the song” is the answer to why lots of things get changed, instead of avoided — they want to sing the song, but they have some perception that it needs to be changed.

  55. Uly May 23, 2013 at 4:07 pm #

    Well, it’s my understanding that many preschools and preschool programs use props, as I stated in my comment. They point to something red or hold up a red sheep and – voila! – teaching. I have personally seen it done this way by three different programs, and I wouldn’t be surprised if other people do the same thing.

    In fact, I just googled it, and a teacher suggestion site with just that idea was, like, the second up. Teachers seem to crib from each other all the time (and who can blame them?), so if its fourth from the top it must be all over the place by now.


    (Sorry, I think I may be a bit pissy because of… Actually, I don’t know why, but it felt a shame to waste the comment anyway.)

  56. Uly May 23, 2013 at 4:09 pm #

    Also, I don’t necessarily think it’s a *good* idea, just that it’s less inane than conflating black sheep with black people and assuming any reference to one must be bad. If that were the reasoning, though, I’d expect them to take out the word “master”, and people don’t seem to do that as much.

  57. hineata May 23, 2013 at 8:47 pm #

    Rainbow sheep? A useful concept – a shame they don’t exist in nature. Would save a lot of time in the dyeing process. Can’t say I have heard that version of the rhyme here, but then we seem to still use mostly the traditional ones, I think – I know I do. Also I think there would probably be a hue and cry from farmers and the community – some kids are out of touch already with the realities of food and animal production, and the last thing they need is nonsense about sheep colour.

    Also I had no idea My Little Ponies were such a cultural icon. I thought they were just irritating little plastic things invented by some marketer on illicit drugs…….All the wonderful psychedelic colours. Obviously I was wrong.

  58. Uly May 23, 2013 at 9:20 pm #

    You know, hineata, that might be another factor. Children rarely see sheep in cities or suburbs (and 80% of the US population lives in cities and suburbs) and are at best vaguely aware that they’re white. If they can be black, why NOT be all sorts of odd colors? Sweaters and hats come in colors, after all, so why not the wool?

    If you want to teach them reality, you wouldn’t want to do that, but then, you probably also wouldn’t want to teach them that sheep can answer questions.

  59. hineata May 23, 2013 at 9:40 pm #

    @Uly- so true, lol! Still, when you get them in the right frame of mind, whose to say they don’t? :-)

  60. Julie May 24, 2013 at 8:27 pm #

    I’ve actually noticed recently that the nursery rhymes my kindergartener is learning are slightly different from the ones I learned. For example,

    “It’s raining, it’s pouring, the old man is snoring,
    He went to bed and bumped his head and couldn’t wake up in the morning”
    has been changed to
    “Didn’t wake up ’till the morning”

    And the last line of “Sing a Song of Sixpence” has gone from the maid hanging clothes in the garden and “along came a blackbird and pecked off her nose” to “landed on her nose.”

    I guess head injuries and losing one’s nose to a bird are too violent these days.


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