Monday, August 30, 2010

Creepy Childhood.

“Beth, Beth, the wife of Death.
Had a crying baby.
She tanned his hide, and she cried;
'now he's ready for Daddy'.”

- A rhyme I made up for my current WIP.

Childhood is brutal. Remember.

The WIP I am working on deals with children being hunted by a supernatural creature. Luckily, they have some werewolves that decide to protect the children. While I researched what type of creature would attack children. I was reminded about all the scary things we were told as kids.

"Ring around the rosies,
a pocket full of posies.
Ashes, ashes we all fall down" *

Since WWII the rhyme has been explained as a reference to the black plague. The rhyme is well known throughout the world, in its many different variations. The version I learned is a little creepy.
When I said, Ashes, ashes, we all fall down, I grew up in the late 70's and early 80's my mind would fill with images of nuclear war. When I heard the black plague explanation, it actually was a relief.

"Rock-a-bye baby
On the tree top
When the wind blows
The cradle with rock
When the bough breaks
The cradle will fall
And down will come baby
cradle and all."

Do we still sing this to our kids? It creeped me out when I was a kid so much, when I had my own I swore I wouldn't sing it. I still sung it to them.

Ladybird, ladybird fly away home,
Your house is on fire and your children are gone,
All except one,
And her name is Ann,
And she hid under the baking pan.

I would always say this rhyme when I saw a ladybug. And think of the poor baby ladybug under the frying pan trying to hide from the fire.

Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty-one.

I knew this rhyme before I knew who Lizze Bordon was.

Then there are the stories. Little Red Riding Hood deals with hungry wolves and dead grandmothers (depending on the version). Snow White has abuse and murder. The original Little Mermaid commits suicide.

Why do we keep these stories and poems alive?

Because children need to face their fears. In my WIP the rhyme was only part of the folklore surrounded the creature hunting the children. There were urban legends, and rumors, that were all told by children, or adults remembering the stories from their youth. It was a way to make the object of fear more understandable, even silly.

Sometimes you hear people say that when they have children, they can't believe what a horrible place the world has become. I got news for you, it's always been horrible. And these little stories and chants are one way to deal with it.

Remember kids are resilient. Think of all the children you read about, or have known that have gone through some horrific stuff. Monsters, horrible creatures, gross and scary songs, only help them deal with it.

So like the kids in my WIP that have to face this creature, making a silly little song helps.

* This is how I remember chanting the rhyme in school. I realize depending on where you are from it would sound a little different.

PS: this artist also uses fear and childhood for his art. I like the infant full plate armor myself.  If It's Hip, It's Here: Rock a Bye Deadly Baby: The Ne Zha Works of Shi Jinsong

1 comment:

  1. The scary things we're told as kids... I told my daughters if they were good, Santa would bring them toys. If they were bad, he would take them away to his workshop and force them to mak toys, and they wouldn't come home til next year.

    They were good.