A Van Halen Lullaby

How do the babies of rock stars ever get to sleep?  The innate desire to perform for an audience must cause these famous parents to break out the stage lighting and pyrotechnics.  Not many babies could sleep through a Steven Tyler shriek or an Eddie Van Halen guitar solo.   

For the rest of us, we resort to soothing our crying babies to sleep with gentle rhymes or lullabies.  Once you discover the lyrics to some classic favorites, however, you might want to start inventing some of your own.

The first time you try to comfort your baby with a lullaby, you will probably select the obvious choice, “Rock-a-Bye-Baby.”  As the words come out of your mouth, you will be Mother Goosed, suddenly shocked into awareness of the horrible meaning behind the lyrics of a nursery rhyme or lullaby.

How exactly is this supposed to be comforting?

Rock-a-bye, baby,
In the treetop,
When the wind blows
The cradle will rock;
When the bough breaks
The cradle will fall,
And down will come baby,
Cradle and all.

Because nothing soothes a baby to sleep like the fear of falling from a tree. 

Children’s songs and nursery rhymes are replete with disturbing images. London Bridge is falling down, Old Mother Hubbard’s dog starves to death, Miss Muffet is frightened by a spider, Humpty Dumpty is cracked open, the farmer’s wife cuts off the tails of the three blind mice with a carving knife, and some abusive husband named Peter keeps his wife locked up in a pumpkin shell.  What happened to the old lady who swallowed a fly?  She swallowed a horse and died, of course! Don’t you feel all warm and fuzzy inside? 

Consider the following heartwarming nursery rhyme:

Goosey, goosey gander,

Whither shall I wander?

Upstairs and downstairs

And in my lady’s chamber.

There I met an old man

Who would not say his prayers;

So I took him by his left leg

And threw him down the stairs.


 “Violence in the workplace” stories always put me to sleep.  Zzzzz… 

How about this childhood classic?

Ring around the rosie,

A pocket full of posies,

Ashes, ashes!

We all fall down.

Sounds innocent enough, but this rhyme is supposedly about the Bubonic Plague of the 14thcentury.  Get your afghan and snuggle up, ’cause it time to sing about Black Death!   

And don’t forget:

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe;
She had so many children she didn’t know what to do.
She gave them some broth without any bread;
Then whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.

A soothing rhyme about a lunatic who should have been given birth control and visited by Social Services. 

A Van Halen lullaby is looking pretty good right about now. 

The words that are passed down to your baby should be gentle, loving, and reassuring.  But I’m too practical to suggest that you create your own soothing lyrics and rhymes.  No one enjoys a poetry assignment in high school, and they certainly don’t have time once a baby comes along.  You will end up doing what mothers have done for generations.  Stick to the old-fashioned, ridiculous songs that have been passed down by our ancestors.   And pray that your baby has no clue what you are talking about. 















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