Rebecca Eckler: Remembering Nursery Rhymes

I'm better at remembering to pay bills somewhat on time than I am remembering the lyrics of nursery rhymes


 

Something really strange happens once you have a baby. When you are holding them, or rocking them to sleep, you have this innate feeling to want to sing nursery rhymes. It just happens.

The other night I heard my fiancé singing “Itsy Bitsy Spider” to our son Holt, who was digging it, and I realized I had some SERIOUS research to do. My fiancé, a man in his forties, could remember every single line to that song. But, for whatever reason, my brain just does not hold onto nursery rhymes. In fact, I’m better at remembering to pay bills somewhat on time than I am remembering the lyrics of nursery rhymes, which, trust me, says A LOT.

While every other mother, it seems, can remember the words to “I’m a Little Tea Pot,” “Bah Bah Black Sheep,” “Old MacDonald Had a Farm,” “Jack and Jill,” “Pat-a-Cake, Pat-a-Cake, Baker’s man,” and “Rock-a-Bye-Baby,” I cant not, even if you threatened me with eating tuna salad (which I hate) remember more than the first couple lines of the above mentioned nursery rhymes. Even nine years ago, when I had my daughter, I remember thinking, “How come I don’t know any nursery rhymes?” So I would actually sing her songs that have been drilled into my head since I was a child, like our Canadian national anthem and even the American National Anthem.

It is true that these anthems are just not as fun as nursery rhymes, neither to sing them or for the baby, but at least I could remember all the lyrics. So I made up a song for my daughter, though I’m not sure if it is mine, or some sort of nursery rhyme. I sing it to her to this day every night. It goes like this. “I love you Rowan, oh yes I do. I love you Rowan, and I’ll be true. When you’re not with me, I’m blue. Oh Rowan, I love you.” The only other song, aside from that one and the national anthems I sang to her was the alphabet.

I feel quite pathetic (and, yes, even STUPID) as a mother, not knowing nursery rhymes, and I can’t figure out why I can’t remember these simple songs. While my fiancé can sing, “I’m a little tea pot,” in its entirety, I sing it like this: “I’m a little tea pot, short and stout…and I don’t remember the rest of the words. So La la la la la la la. La la la la la la la.” Same with “Jack and Jill.” I’ll sing, “Jack and Jill went up a hill to fetch a pail of water…then what the heck did Jack and Jill do? La la la la la la la la. I have no idea! La la la la la la la…” Meanwhile my fiancé can sing “Pop Goes the Weasel,” “Rain Rain go away,” and “The Farmer in the Dell,” and I’m like, “This little piggy had a….oh my god, I can’t even remember what ONE stupid little piggy did.”

So, again, my nine month old is, from me, hearing the Canadian National anthem or the alphabet, but that’s about it.

I ask myself, “WHAT THE HECK WENT WRONG IN MY CHILDHOOD THAT I DON’T KNOW ONE FULL NURSERY RHYME TO SING TO MY BABY!” I can say that my daughter knows the National Anthem by heart (and, actually, I know a ton of adults who can’t even remember the words to that song, so maybe I did well.)

Because I want to be the best mother I can be I am actually going to spend a couple hours on YouTube learning these basic nursery rhymes that have been around forever. Thank goodness for the Internet, or my poor baby would only hear, from me at least, “Oh Canada!” Even I can admit that’s pretty damn lame.

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