A British-American bluestocking living in the UK writes about politics, pop culture, and emerging new paradigms as they unfold on both sides of the Atlantic. (New content.)

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

BBC Makes Humpty Dumpty...Happy

Remember this?

"Humpty-Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty-Dumpty had a great fall...
All the kings horses and all the king's men
Could not put Humpty-Dumpty together again."

That is the childhood nursery rhyme which has been passed down for hundreds of years from a time when there were men who actually served the King and didn't have him waiting around for his mother to retire. Apparently, the BBC has decided to doctor the age-old nursery rhyme. As a final line the BBC inserted, "Made Humpty-Dumpty happy again." Although the BBC insisted that it was a "creative" move and only that, it is apparent that now nursery rhymes are not immune to the P.C. Police.

I heard this nursery rhyme as a child as did my mother and probably her mother before that. I saw pictures of that poor EggMan shattered by his garden wall and never thought anything of it. It wasn't that I was an unfeeling child (quite the contrary). I figured that if an egg fell off a wall and broke, it wasn't such a big deal. A little bit of Elmer's glue and some ingenuity would bring him back to life.

Listening to the demise of an EggMan did not traumatize me. What did traumatize me was having a housekeeper that cursed like a sailor and chased my brothers and I and my best friend all around the house with a broom if she was in a bad mood. Which was often. Once, my brother asked if he could possibly have a bowl of oatmeal and she barked at him and produced a mixing bowl out of the cupboard, dumped a full round canister of  "Quaker Oats" oatmeal into the bowl, put tap water in it and gave him a mixing spoon and made him eat it until he threw up. When my parents came home, she was ever so supercilious and smiled until her face hurt. It was gothic. My parents never believed us. My brother still can't see oatmeal without becoming nauseous. And I hate sweeping. In the end, she was fired because she robbed my parents blind....took heirloom jewelry, clothes and everything else she could get her hands on. It wasn't pretty. A broken egg in a nursery rhyme to me as a child? A walk in the park.

Political correct behavior is also eliminating competition among children. I played softball one summer because three of my best friends wanted to do something on vacation. I was awful. To add insult to injury, they broke the four of us up and put us each on a different team. Not only did I close my eyes when the ball was thrown my way, I couldn't outrun a slug. There were no ribbons for "Participation" or "Miss-Nice-Baseball-Girl-Even Though-She-Can't-Play-Worth-a-Hoot". The summer couldn't be over fast enough. But the good part was that I saw my friends every day and we would laugh because none of us were any good and we were relegated to the outfield. I carried a book in my glove so I could read while I waited for a ball to come my way. We joked and yelled at each other and developed crushes on some of the other sixth graders from the public school who came to see us play...very badly. I survived that summer and never played softball again, but I wasn't traumatized, it was just a rite of passage. I knew I wasn't an athlete and I never would be. I didn't cry about it or feel terrible. It was just the truth and I knew it. Most kids know their real interests and strengths by the time they hit puberty. I wasn't going to be the next Ted Williams. I just wanted to hang out with my friends and get a cool baseball cap.

In high school, I did competitive speaking. I didn't win a lot when I started as the competitors in the other schools were older and more polished. But I kept at it. And the glee that I felt when I finally won as a senior was one of the highlights of my life. But if I had not won...I doubt that I would have believed that I was somehow "unworthy". I had learned to lose graciously by that time and had an appreciation for a victory. Losing had made me work harder and longer. Kids have a way of grieving quickly and then pushing on or letting it go. Would that it was that easy as an adult. The insecurity in a child comes from abuse or neglect from crazy families, or bullies or from horrid strangers and not from losing a game or hearing about Humpty-Dumpty falling off a wall.

We are eliminating our rites of passage (not that we had many as it was). We are attempting to get children to think that life does not have roadblocks, that all is smooth sailing and that there aren't occurrences in life that are difficult or challenging. That's not helping children, it is hindering them because it robs them of the ability to learn from mistakes and most of all to persevere. We are setting them up to live in a bubble of false hope. And because getting around obstacles takes creativity...we are robbing them of that ability, too, in a way.

Back then--- after being chased by a maniacal, broom-wielding, aggressive, cursing crook of a housekeeper, I figured Humpty-Dumptywas just a whiner. I still think he is. Someone hand the guy some glue and a therapist. If not, I'll be forced to chase him around his wall with a broom. It will not be pretty.