For years, writers and lyricists have had to defend their work against claims that they were on drugs when they wrote them. The Beatles. Bob Dylan. Nirvana. The list can go on and on. Obviously, some of them, if not all, were dancing with Mary Jane, if not worse. But how come nobody has questioned Mother Goose? Where are the Congressional hearings, the inquisitions, into such rhymes as the following:
"Hey diddle diddle. The cat and the fiddle. The cow jumped over the moon." What the hell does that mean? What was this chick on? (Get it? Chick? She's a goose)!
"The little dog laughed to see such sport. And the dish ran away with the spoon?" What's that dog smoking, that he finds all of this so amusing? And why are the dish and the spoon "running away" together? Are we introducing our kids to adultery? Pre-marital sex? Or, God forbid, inter-racial dating? I'm surprised the conservative right hasn't pushed for a ban on Mother Goose. She's worse than that evil wizard, Harry Potter.
What about that age-old lullaby? You know the one where the sleeping child falls out of a tree and crashes to the ground without anything or anyone below to save him? "When the bow breaks the cradle will fall, and down will come baby, cradle and all?" Sweet dreams, darling. Are you kidding me? We're supposed to sing this to our children, to soothe them?
Television commercials have more educational and social value than this crazy bird. You want examples? Oh, I got examples:
"Nobody bakes a cake as tasty as a Tastycake." Simple, clever, and regardless of whether you agree or not, it's believable. The flatware is not running off with the silverware in some sordid dishwasher scene.
Here's another one:
"My bologna has a first name. It's O-S-C-A-R. My bologna has a second name. It's M-A-Y-E-R. I like to eat it everyday and if you ask me, why I'll say. Oscar Mayer has a way with B-O-L-O-G-N-A." Not only is that educational, it's delicious.
"Plop. Plop. Fizz. Fizz. Oh, what a relief it is." It's never too early to teach your children onomatopoeia. For those of you who do not know, that is the literary term used for a word that itself imitates a sound. Such as "plop" and "fizz." Even if you don't know what it means, those words are fun to say.
But no. Television, my medium of choice, is dismissed as a "wasteland." Well, Mother Goose and her zany followers can have their old women who live in shoes. Go right ahead with your lazy little boys blue who are off sleeping in the pasture when they should be working. And continue to tell stories of abusive husbands who keep their wives in pumpkins. Those aren't habits I want my daughter picking up.
And while I'm bashing the establishment, how many new parents out there have dropped hundreds of dollars on Baby Einstein DVD's? We were seduced by the name at first too. It's called 'Einstein,' so if she watches it, she'll be smart. You know who says that? The company who makes these videos and sells them for 15 bucks a pop. The first - and only - one we bought is called "Baby Beethoven." All it is? Toys set to music. A little plastic train rolling around a track to Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. For half an hour. What exactly is this teaching my child, except how to sit transfixed in front of the television? I can teach her that myself.
Trust me when I say I can produce more educational and entertaining programming. In fact, I have produced more educational and entertaining programming.
After seeing her stare at that screen for what seemed like forever, I put an end to the madness. No more television. Until she's two. That's our goal, at least. You know what I get from more "seasoned" parents when I say that? "Oh, you say that now." Yeah, I do. It's been seven months, and my daughter hasn't watched television yet. She doesn't seem to be bothered by it, either.
She might not be allowed to watch television, but that doesn't mean I won't be teaching her about it. It is, after all, my job. I'll be singing her good old-fashioned jingles. Because they're funny, they're smart, and they actually have a nice message. Like bologna is fun. And cakes are tasty. Go stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Mother Goose.