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Save the children!

Andy Stone

My wife and I have been blessed to not have two lovely children. Indeed, we have been so blessed as to not have even one lovely child.As a result, I am able to devote my full time and attention to vital parenting issues that may have escaped the attention of those who have to take time off from pondering weighty issues to deal with soggy diapers.The un-childless spend countless hours fighting to keep their offspring from watching porn on the Internet or figuring out how to raid their retirement accounts in order to buy their children the latest in basketball shoes. “Here are your new AirKobe shoes, Fauntleroy – and, no, you can’t read about Kobe on the Internet, the porn-blocking filter won’t let any stories about him through. Just shut your eyes and wear the shoes.”I have no such distractions and so I can focus on truly important matters, such as today’s topic: censoring nursery songs.This crisis came to my attention the other day when I suddenly found my mind filled with a cheery little tune I had learned as a child.The words to this song – as I learned them when I was quite young – went like this: “Alouetta, jaunty alouetta. Alouetta, jaunty plumeray.”Most of the words didn’t make any sense, but I knew it was all in a foreign language – French, to be exact – so making sense wasn’t important.I figured “Alouetta” might be somebody’s name. There were people named “Lou” and people named “Etta” and people named “Louella” … so why not “Alouetta”?”Jaunty” was an English word. I liked that word: happy, carefree, perky. A good word.And “plumeray” … well, who knew what that meant? Like I said, it was a foreign language.Then, a few years ago, I was chatting with a cousin of mine who is an actual, genuine French person. For some reason, I thought of that song and I asked him what the lyrics meant.I was shocked! And horrified.To begin with, that first word isn’t “alouetta,” it’s “alouette,” which is French for meadow lark. Now, that’s kind of cool – a song about a meadow lark. OK.Next, the word “jaunty” is not actually in the song.That first “jaunty” is actually “gentille,” which is pronounced almost like “jaunty” and means “nice” or “kind.”Well, that’s still OK. A song to a nice little meadow lark.But then come those last words: “jaunty plumeray.” What they really are is this: “je te plumerai.””What does that mean?” I asked my cousin.He gave me a look of infinite patience that has been stretched to the breaking point by having to deal with fools – that is, he looked at me like a Frenchman looks at an American – and said, “It means, ‘I am going to pull out your feathers.'”Yikes!Nice, sweet little meadow lark, I am going to pull out your feathers.That’s a heck of a song.”But why?” I asked my cousin. “Why pull out his feathers?””Because we are going to eat him!” he answered, with the look and tone of someone explaining why water is wet.And that’s what we have our little children singing in their pure, delightful little voices: Meadow lark, nice sweet meadow lark, I am going to pull out all your feathers … and eat you!This obscene madness has got to stop!And that’s not the only example.In case you’ve forgotten, the delightful little children’s ditty, “Ring Around the Rosey” is about the bubonic plague from back in the Middle Ages.”Ring around the rosey” refers to the red, circular sores that plague victims would develop.”A pocket full of posies” refers to the flowers people would carry to cover the smell of their diseased bodies.”Ashes, ashes” either mimics the sneezing of infected people (a-choo, a-choo!) or refers to the fact that the bodies of the dead were burned. Take your pick.And “All fall down” describes what people do when they die.So there you are again: a delightful little children’s song about death.One more?”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.”Not much need to comment on that one, is there? This is parenting by a homicidal maniac.Sleep, little child, sleep … with thoughts of death and destruction on your mind!Dream about falling from a great height. Dream about dying from the plague.Think about catching a sweet little meadow lark, plucking all its feathers … and eating it!I don’t know how you parents can stand it!Get a grip! Internet porn is better than murder, plague and killing sweet little birdies.Andy Stone is former editor of The Aspen Times. His e-mail address is andy@aspentimes.com.


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