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10 childhood rhymes you were too young to understand (explained)

You deserve to know what they mean

1. Rock a bye baby

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

This rhyme sums up life. It predicts the future harm to befall a child. The unofficial history of the rhyme says that it was written by a pilgrim who had observed Native-American baby cradles hanging from the branches of trees, swaying children to sleep…and possibly to their deaths.

2. Row row row your boat

Row row row your boat. Gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, Life is but a dream.

This rhyme is as easygoing as it sounds. It really just reminds everyone to take life easier and one “row” at a time. Not such a bad lesson for a child, especially when compared with the other rhymes people were singing for us as children.

3. Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

The original lyrics of this rhyme was in French and told of a young girl tormented by love. A very sad something, not the starry, hopeful tune we constantly recited.

4. Mary Had a Little Lamb

Mary had a little lamb. Little lamb, little lamb. Mary had a little lamb. Its fleece was white as snow…

This rhyme might actually be the only rhyme based on a real occurrence. A real girl named Mary did take her lamb to school and naturally a raucous ensued. The first lines were written by visiting Harvard University student, John Roulstone who had seen what happened, and the rest – quite literally – is history.

5. Humpty Dumpty

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the King’s horses and all the King’s men. Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

Wait first. You might have been thinking, ” wetin Humpty Dumpty go find for wall sef?” But before you judge, you have to know that the real Humpty Dumpty wasn’t really a person but a massive siege cannon used by the British Royal Forces during the English Civil War. It fell, the soldiers could not use it again and they all died because they could not defend themselves. So, well, maybe there were people that died in the end sha.

6. London Bridge Is Falling Down

London Bridge is falling down. Falling down, falling down. London Bridge is falling down. My fair lady.

There are a couple of meanings to this rhyme. But the most common one and the one that will definitely leave you shook is the one that connects the bridge in the rhyme with the practice of “immurement“. Which is something they used to do in the past where they’d put someone in a structure and seal it off so that they’d just die of hunger and thirst. This human sacrifice is believed to make the structure strong and last longer and it is believed they did that to little children under the London Bridge. Like, WTH! And they’ll tell you oyinbo no dey do witchcraft, IFIH! But that’s not the freakiest part, you know how as kids we would sing the song and take turns moving under an “arch” that we formed? That was us legit practicing ritual sacrifice without knowing. Mind sufficiently blown? Yeah…I thought so.

7. This Old Man

This old man, he played one. He played knick-knack on my thumb. With a knick-knack, paddy whack. Give a dog a bone. This old man came rolling home…

The origin of this rhyme suggests some unfair treatment of the Irish by the English. Historically, these neighbors weren’t really best of friends and if the Irish were indeed treated poorly and then sent “rolling home” like the rhyme suggests, then it is no wonder.

8. Baa Baa Black Sheep

Baa Baa Black Sheep. Have you any wool? Yes, sir, yes, sir. Three bags full. One for the master. One for the dame. And one for the little boy. Who lives down the lane.

This rhyme is really all about wool but the earlier version has one difference. Where there is now “one” there used to be “none”. At that time, the farmers were so heavily taxed that after giving one-third to the king and one-third to the church, there was nothing left for the poor farmer. AYA…

9. Jack And Jill

Jack and Jill went up the hill. To fetch a pail of water. Jack fell down and broke his crown. And Jill came tumbling after.

Guys!! Jack and Jill really did climb that hill for more than just a pail of water. But it’s a very tragic story really. According to these guys, Jack and Jill were a young unmarried couple who used to climb the hill for some “rock climbing and chill” so that no one will catch them. That was how Jill carry belle but just before she gave birth, Jack was killed by a rock that had fallen from their ‘chilling’ hill. A few days later, Jill died while giving birth to their love child. That story is too sad. It’s not even fair.

10. Old Roger Is Dead

Old Roger is dead and gone to his grave, H’m ha ! gone to his grave. They planted an apple tree over his head, H’m ha! over his head. The apples were ripe and ready to fall, H’m ha ! ready to fall. There came an old woman and picked them all up, H’m ha! picked them all up. Old Roger jumped up and gave her a knock, H’m ha! gave her a knock. Which made the old woman go hippity hop, H’m ha! hippity hop!

This rhyme will leave you with more questions than answers. Why did Roger die? Why did they plant the apple tree over his head? Why did Old Roger give the woman a knock? And why did the woman hop? Was it not her head and not her leg that they knocked? Why? WHY? WHY?!!! Too many questions that probably weren’t passing through your mind as a child.

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Written by dada eniola

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