Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

Ring a ring a rosie

A pocket full of posie

Ashes, ashes,

We all fall down!

Innocent enough children’s rhyme, right? Hold hands and dance around in a circle before falling to the ground and giggling. Yeaaaa!!!!!

No.

Like many children’s rhymes, songs, and poems, this particular rhyme contains a hidden meaning. In medieval Europe, they had outbreaks of the plague. The first symptom was a circular red sore (ring of roses). As people started dying, the bodies piles up in the streets. The stench was unbearable and some people put herbs and flowers around their neck or in pockets to try and mask the smell of decaying flesh (pocket full of posies). When the bodies were burned, the ashes would rain down on the city, on young and old alike (ashes, ashes). Ultimately, many people could not escape the plague and ended up dead (we all fall down…dead).

Wonderful. And kids sing this like it’s the happiest song ever.

After having kids of my own and reading many of these poems and songs, I realized just how many of these things have a deeper darker meaning.

Here’s another.

Oh, The grand old Duke of York,
He had ten thousand men;
He marched them up to the top of the hill,
And he marched them down again.

And when they were up, they were up,
And when they were down, they were down,
And when they were only half-way up,
They were neither up nor down.

Like many things from hundreds of years ago, this rhyme has several meanings, but the version I like best is that  the duke is Richard, Duke of York born in 1411. There are a few other contenders like James II born in 1633 and Prince Fredrick born in 1763.

Richard, with 8,000 of his troops, was surrounded in Sandal Castle which was built on a hill. (he marched them Up) He was awaiting reinforcements, but decided to instead sally forth (down the hill) and fight the siege army nearly three times his number. Richard and many of his army were killed, and having ceased to exist, were (neither up nor down)

The next rhyme may be from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.

Sing a Song of Sixpence,
A bag full of Rye,
Four and twenty
Black Birds,
Bak’d in a Pye.

When the pie was opened,
The birds began to sing;
Was not that a dainty dish,
To set before the king?

The king was in his counting-house,
Counting out his money;
The queen was in the parlor,
Eating bread and honey.

The maid was in the garden,
Hanging out the clothes,
There came a little blackbird,
And snapped off her nose.

Apparently there really were recipes that instructed how to bake a pie with live birds inside so that they would fly out when the pie was cut open. At least if the Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes is to be believed, an Italian cookbook from 1549 tells the baker just how to accomplish this feat. There is no explanation why a maid would be forced to suffer such a fate in a rhyme. Maybe it made the Nobles feel better to subject their servants to abuse in song, in addition to real life. At least some later versions include:

They sent for the king’s doctor,
Who sewed it on again,
He sewed it on so neatly,
The seam was never seen.

Another one that always struck me as terrible is the classic lullaby:

Rock-a-bye baby, on the treetops,
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock,
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall,
And down will come baby, cradle and all.

There are many theories as to the meaning of this rhyme. One popular theory is that it originated in America in the 1600s when colonists saw Native American women rocking their babies in birch bark cradles swung from tree limbs. The idea being that the wind would rock them to sleep. However, the poem first appears in print in England in 1765, so this would appear to invalidate the American ownership.

Another theory comes from a local legend in Derbyshire England where Luke and Kate Kenyon lived with their eight children in a huge Yew tree. They hollowed out one of the limbs for a cradle while Luke made charcoal in Shining Cliffs wood in the Derwent Valley.

There are some cool political overtones to the rhyme though. Another theory focuses on a footnote ( “This may serve as a warning to the Proud and Ambitious, who climb so high that they generally fall at last”) published with the original, and goes along with a second lesser-known verse:

Rock-a-bye, baby, thy cradle is green;
Father’s a nobleman, mother’s a queen;
And Betty’s a lady, and wears a gold ring;
And Johnny’s a drummer, and drums for the king.

The baby is said to be James II, who was believed to be someone else’s child smuggled into the birthing room to provided a Roman Catholic heir to King James I. The “wind” may have been the Protestant wind blowing from the Netherlands, bringing James’ nephew and son-in-law William of Orange, who would eventually depose King James II in the revolution. The “cradle” is the royal House of Stuart

This post is by no means exhaustive on the subject, and I only did my research online. But I hope I have been able to illuminate some commonly sung rhymes that we memorize when we are kids and don’t know the hidden, darker history to. As always, I’d love to read your thoughts and reactions. Thanks!

 Other resources can be found here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Grand_Old_Duke_of_York
http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/1904/whats-the-nursery-rhyme-sing-a-song-of-sixpence-all-about
Advertisements

Nathan Roarke was born yesterday, coming in at 9 lbs. 6.8 oz. and 22 in. long. My wife is a champion at natural childbirth! No drugs or anything. The labor went well, but it’s not called labor for nothin’.  It was work. But after 10 minutes and 4 pushes, he was out. ( I hear second children are faster that way.)Still, the entire labor was long and we were both up for more than 24 hours. Exhausted doesn’t begin to explain it. But we are very happy and thankful that both mother and baby are healthy and safe.

You may have to endure a proud parent bragging here. That said, I wanted to document my son’s development more for my own remembrance than anything else.

He is one smart little boy. His vocabulary has expanded exponentially from what it was when I wrote about it here, at 16 months. Back then he was saying one word at a time. Now he is speaking in 5-6 word sentences. Things like: “Daddy, Andrew’s mower right there!” His other oft repeated phrases are: “Go again.” “Open it.” “Daddy bike, Andrew bike…helmet.” etc.

He will usually repeat a word if he hears it once now. He also surprises us with things like, “Grocery store.” when we are pulling into the grocery store parking lot.

He can also count to 12. Yes 12. We were counting with him one night, and I expected him to stop at 3. I figured 1..2..3 was pretty good for a kid not even two years old yet. But he kept going until we got to 10. Then I really expected him to stop. I mean, most baby counting books only go up to 10. That’s how many fingers you have, right? What under two year old knows more than that? “Eleven.” he said, clear as day. Lydia and I looked at each other like, “How does he he know that!?” “Twelve.” Well now we are just stunned. But that was a far as he went. It turns out that the lady at daycare has twelve stairs that the kids count going up and down every day.

Today was the first day that he joined in and sang several portions of the ABC song. He usually gets ABC and then comes in again at LOP. But today he got most of the letters. Pretty cool. And he can carry the tune!

My wife is one of the least sneaky people I know. When the baby is sleeping, she will just walk down the stairs like normal, not bothering to skip the second step (which is squeaky) or stepping to the inside of the 4th one (also squeaky). If she’s going down to the basement to do laundry, she will just wrench the door open, not pull up first, so that it opens quietly. So I find it very frustrating when I am trying to be quiet and the baby still wakes up if I step on a board wrong, but will sleep quietly with her banging around somewhere.

I thought I would catalog my son Andrew’s language so that I can look back and remember what he did and didn’t know when he was 16 months old. So here are all the words he knows:

Mommy: self explanatory

Daddy: self explanatory

mum mum: nursing

ba ba: his sippy cup

doggy: dog

buhdy: birdy

boo berwee: blue berry

bye: as in, goodbye ( with waving)

pwee: please

no: no, sometimes he means yes, though.

uh oh: when he drops something

wahdy: ready?

pee pee

pahdy: potty

Oh wow: when he learns something new.

I just read a very eloquent and thoughtful letter from a librarian to a patron asking that the children’s book “Uncle Bobby’s Wedding,” by Sarah S. Brannen be banned. I feel strongly about reading, freedom of speech, and even gay marriage, so this was a good read for me. The librarian, Jamie Larue, basically states that he will not pull the book from the shelves because of free speech (but the letter is so much more than that). He also makes an important point that if parents feel that a certain issue is wrong, or sensitive to the values they are trying to instill in their children, don’t read that book to them. It’s as simple as that.

This is like parents that get upset when their children start swearing or getting violent from just having played 17 hours of any Grand Theft Auto video game. How can they be upset when they bought it for them, silently endorsing the game by their purchase of it.

So while I may not agree with gay marriage for religious reasons, I certainly agree with the library’s decision to stock this book. Comments?

And now I will relate the dramatic story of when my brother stabbed me in the back. Yes, he actually did.

There we were on a pleasant weekend afternoon, me, my best friend, and my godbrother (the son of my godparents.) We had spent the hours after lunch turning my room into the perfect 10-12 year old play spot. There was the big pile of LEGOs all over the carpet. The discarded drawing pads from when we had our Most Awesome Jet drawing contest, and a chess game in progress on the bed. Go-bots (the less commercially viable version of Transformers) also made a showing. We were all deep in concentration when we heard a little voice out in the hallway leading to the door of my room.

“I’m gonna kill Danny.” my two year old brother said in a mischievous whisper. The three of us looked at each other, not knowing quite what to expect. On the one hand, Pete was only two years old. How much damage can a toddler do anyway? On the other hand, this was Pete we were talking about. El Destructo. The Terminator. The Master of Myhem. Mr. Booders. (don’t ask me where that last one fits in) Pete was a local legend in the neighborhood for having The most Terrible twos, EVAR. All eyes turned towards the door…

In an explosion of movement, my two-year-old brother kicked the door in and took a flying leap across the room straight at me. As soon as he landed, his hand swung around, and with a wicked scream, stabbed me right in the back with a flathead screwdriver. I writhed in pain, my arm reaching around to pluck the dreaded implement from my abused back. Luckily, it had only broken the skin, not penetrated too far. Pete was still all over me, punching and hitting. A cocoon of horror, writ in pudgy, little hands. I reacted naturally and kicked out, sending him flying back across the room to smash into the LEGO bin, a used Christmas popcorn sampler tin. You know, the ones that are two feet tall and have regular, cheddar, and caramel corn.

So Pete runs out of the room crying while my friends are looking at me in shock; like, “Did your brother actually just STAB you? Yeah…he did.”

The next thing I know, Mom is yelling for me to GET DOWNSTAIRS THIS MINUTE, MISTER! I exchange another look with my friends and hobble downstairs. After I explain what happened, I got the expected dose of sympathy when one nearly experienced fratricide. And that, as they say, is that. Do you have any fun stories of violence among siblings? Now keep in mind that the key word here is FUN. I don’t want to celebrate truly terrible domestic situations. But, everyone has a good story of when their brother attacked them with a tire iron, or nearly blew their ankle off with a quarter stick of dynamite. Stuff like that. So what’s yours?

Ahhhhhhh.

Posted: August 29, 2009 in baby, Family, Food, Parenting
Tags: , , , ,

Time for a cute baby update. A few mornings ago, I was drinking my coffee as usual. Andrew had his sippy cup. I took a long swig and when I put the mug down, went “Ahhhhhh” in satisfaction. Andrew promptly picked up his sippy cup, drank some milk, put it down, and went “Ahhhhh.”

Now every time he takes a drink from his cup, he says, “Ahhhh.” I rate it a 9 on the cuteness scale.

IMG_2321IMG_2334

A few nights ago, I heard the sound that new parents fear in the middle of the night. A big bump, and then crying. Andrew climbed out of his crib in the middle of the night. I threw the covers off and ran in to find him lying on the floor, crying and shaken, but no worse for wear, at least as far as I could tell. Just about a month ago, I lowered the mattress to it’s lowest setting so climbing out would be harder for him. Obviously, it didn’t take him long to find a way to power up and over the railing. I mean, the top of the rail is still at chest height on him. I thought that would be enough. It wasn’t.

So we made the decision that we would rather deal with a new crib set-up and an altered bedtime routine (again) than have him fall out of the crib for a second time. I measured where the new rail would be, and Lydia got the old bumper rail that went on her bunk beds from her parents. I think it turned out rather well. I just need to stain it to match the color. Andrew can climb in and out and there are cushions there if he falls out. The bad part is that now he can climb out of bed and walk into our room.

We just got him used to falling asleep on his own by using the progressive waiting method. (one of the best thing we have done, by the way) Now, his routine is changed, but he won’t be falling four feet down onto hardwood floors anymore either.

This was Andrew’s first time at the Scottish Games. He had a blast  listening to the bagpipes. We even got to be in the parade of Clans, representing Donald of course. My wife made his kilt out of the material I used for my own homemade kilt for prom 10 years ago. It’s the MacDonald dress tartan.

IMG_2244

IMG_2253IMG_2251

healthcareI know that there are downsides to socialized medicine, (and please feel free to tell me what they are) but I want to write about the upsides, and maybe the sidesides.

From my uninsured, and non-expert opinion, I think that the U.S. having Universal Health Care is a good idea. The main reason is that we have 50,000,000 people who are uninsured right now. We live in the richest nation in the world, and yet 16% of our population can’t get the help they need when it comes to health problems. The United States pays the most for health care, more than any other country, yet on almost any scale you choose to measure, we rank last. Out of Australia, Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and the USA, we rank last on quality care, access, efficiency, equity, and healthy lives.

I started getting interested in this subject when I got Michael Moore’s “Sicko” out from the library. Now I know what you’re thinking.

“That is a load of democratic socialist propaganda!”

Maybe. So I also watched this Frontline report that also tackles the issue of Universal Health Care with a more dispassionate, intelligent approach. T.R.Reid (Washington Post reporter) goes around to the second and third wealthiest nations, among others, and investigates their health care systems. He evaluates each system on how much it costs to the public, the effects on the insurance and drug companies, the level of care, and most telling of all, how many people in that country go bankrupt every year from medical bills. ( None, as opposed to 700,000 in the U.S.) He tries to take the best of each program and apply it to the U.S. One of the interesting points was that not all countries have total government owned hospitals. Japan and Germany have privately owned doctors offices, hospitals, and insurance companies. Hmm, maybe we can do this in America after all.

When most people hear “Universal Health Care,” they automatically think, “Total Government Control! Big Brother! Waiting months to see a doctor!” The reality is much less alarming. In fact, we already have government run health care in America. Just look at the care we provide our Veterans. Putting the scandal a few years ago aside, the network of VA hospitals offers some of the best care in the country. Don’t believe me? read this excerpt about the VA.

The Annals of Internal Medicine in 2004, published a a study that compared Veteran’s health facilities with commercial managed care systems in their treatment of diabetes patients. In seven out of seven measures of quality, the VA provided better care. A RAND Corporation study published in the same journal concluded that VA outperforms all other sectors of American health care in 294 measures of quality.

One of the big complaints that people have with government run health care, is that people have to wait a long time to be helped. Really? Cause when I took my Mom to the Emergency Room at a local hospital in NY with a severe cut to her forearm at 10:00 p.m., we had to wait until 3:30 a.m. for her to be taken care of. And it was not a bustling downtown ER with gunshot victims. I find it hard to imagine that we would have to wait more than five hours to be seen somewhere in Europe.

From what I’ve read, seen, heard from friends, and (gasp) in fact experienced myself, medical care overseas is prompt, professional, and cheap. When I traveled to Ireland, I got in infection (sparing details) that made my ears feel like I was fifty feet underwater. We went to a small clinic in a seaside village where I was seen immediately. I was a foreigner, and yet they saw me right away, proscribed medicine, and only charged me seven pounds ($15). If the situation were reversed, I’m sure that the sick Irishman would have to pay at least $150 for the appointment, that is, if they agreed to treat him in the first place without the consent of an American insurance company.

I’m going to post this now, but will be adding to this article as I learn more.

(bear with me…this is a venting post)

We went to go get my 1 year old son’s shots updated yesterday. (more…)

IMG_2062

My son just turned one and he is a prodigious climber. He is a beast of a baby too. He doesn’t even use his legs to climb up onto chairs. He just grabs both edges and pulls himself up using only his arms. It’s beginning to be a problem because he is so quick that if we don’t see him for 20 seconds, he will be up the stairs, climbing the toilet, and IN the sink banging on the mirror. I’m so glad that I keep my straight razors in a separate rack high up off the floor. It is becoming very tiring keeping up with him all day. He’s also starting to walk too so maybe that will tire him out just enough that we can catch our breath.

Two days ago, I set Andrew down on his feet and he stood for 3 seconds before he fell. I tried it again yesterday and he did it for a full fifteen seconds. Now he can do it longer. He is rock solid too. No wobbles. He even tried a few steps towards me but he fell. He can do tiny steps to correct for balance though. Pretty exciting. We have to do a whole new round of baby proofing now.
IMG_1945
IMG_1948

My son was up at 3:30 AM this morning. I groggily get up and change his diaper. Then I swaddle him up again and rock him to sleep for 20 minutes with a repeated “Twinkle twinkle little star.” I carefully get up and place him down in his crib on his back. Finally, he is asleep. I take two step back and a floorboard squeaks drawing instant cries from him. DANG IT! Well, our doctor says we need to “Ferberize” him so I think, why not now. He was asleep 2 seconds ago. maybe he’s tired enough to get back down with minimal interference from me. I stay in the room and sing while he cries. When he stands up and grabs the crib rail, I pick him up and put him back down. Crying continues for minutes as I keep putting him back down. I try to let him go for a few minutes by himself because the method says that one needs to increase the intervals of intervention if it’s to be successful. From 3 minutes to 5 to 7  to 10 and so on.

Brief history: Andrew has been saying the sylable Da/ or Dah (depending on your phonetic preference) for the last two weeks. However, they are always strung together like: da da da da da da. There have been a few times when he has said da da when I have been around, but never with intent or recognition, if you know what I mean. OK, back to the story.

So he’s been crying for 5 minutes and makes his way around to he end of the crib where I’m sitting in a rocking chair. I am still singing to him and he grabs my hair, trying to gum on it. This is where I think he realizes that it’s his Dad with him because he suddenly starts wailing “Daaaaa daaaaa!” “Daaa Daaaa!”where before it was only crying, no attempt at words or other noises.

My heart breaks.

I pick him up and he quiets down immediatley. I decide that I’ve had enough Ferberizing for one night. I bring him back into our room where I notice it is now 4:45 AM. Awesome. My wife nurses him to sleep while I try to drift off. After another hour of laying awake, I think I slept. Maybe.