The old lady DIES??!?#?!

The old lady DIES??!?#?!

Have you ever noticed that kids' songs can be a little bizarre and sometimes, quite frankly, disturbing?! Like the old lady who swallows a fly, a spider, a bird, a cat, a dog, a goat, a cow and a horse before she finally dies... Or the tailor who decided to bake his pet mouse in a pie because he *thought* he was going to die. Kinda weird and strangely confronting!

Personally, I never re-appropriate lyrics (I sing about a black sheep, my kookaburra's life is gay and my old lady dies when she swallows that fly). For me, songs give kids a chance to safely think and talk about challenging topics in age-appropriate ways.

Imagine being this poor mother duck who has lost her 5 baby ducks... sniff, sniff

Imagine being this poor mother duck who has lost her 5 baby ducks... sniff, sniff

Take the song "5 little ducks" for example... I knew a little girl who would burst into tears every time I sang that song and got up to the bit where "Poor mother duck went out one day..." all on her own because her five precious babies were missing. Well, golly gee - that IS pretty devastating - if YOUR child has ever  been lost then you can relate to how terrifying that is (at this point I *could* share the story of when I lost my 2 year old son in a shopping centre, then proceeded to run about in a hysterical state until I eventually spotted him holding a balloon and eating ice-cream with the security team but that would be entirely off-topic). The point is that this little girl connected with the story being told in the song. She not only understood the mother's pain but felt it herself. Now, wouldn't the world be a better place if everyone had that level of empathy for people going though a tough time? Of course, the mother of this child could have chosen to never, ever let her little girl hear this song because it was upsetting. Instead, she chose to acknowledge her sadness and notice her empathy. I'm pretty sure that this approach will mean that this little girl (who's not quite so little any more) will go through life being OK with the fact that she is touched by other people's pain and know that this is actually a gift, not something to be ashamed of. She might just learn to carry a tissue in her pocket instead of fighting back her tears. And again, wouldn't the world be a better place if everyone was a little more like that?

And what about that tailor who baked his pet mouse in a pie? Would you eat YOUR pet mouse in a pie? What about just any old mouse? Or any old chicken? Hmmm... suddenly you're having an age-appropriate discussion about food sovereignty, animal rights and ethical eating!

There was a tailor had a mouse
Hi diddle um-kum feedle
They lived together in a house
Hi diddle um-kum needle

Hi diddle um-kum, tarum tantum
Through the house of Ramsey
Hi diddle um-kum over the lea
Hi diddle um-kum feedle

The tailor thought the mouse was ill
Because he took an awful chill

The tailor though the mouse would die
And so he baked him in a pie

He cut the pie, the mouse ran out
The mouse was in a terrible pout

The tailor gave him catnip tea
Until a healthy mouse was he

Songs offer a rich chance to introduce kids to words and ideas that are beyond their everyday experiences. Of course, language is powerful and I think it is important to talk about why songs have words and ideas that might not be appropriate to use in day to day life. With slightly older kids, songs give you the opportunity to talk about language and the impact it has. I like to highlight two things - firstly, that the lyrics of songs reflect their time and that the words used were acceptable in the time (e.g. Clap hands, clap hands, til daddy comes home, 'cause daddy has money and mummy has none). AND secondly to reflect on the language we use today, because in twenty years time, words and phrases that we use now will be looked back on as inappropriate. Language is powerful and song lyrics open opportunities for having important conversations.

"Everyone LOVES rollers"

"Everyone LOVES rollers"

Pick a juicy red apple

Pick a juicy red apple