You know those brightly colored books with buttons that, when pushed, produce tinny, ever-so-slightly-off-key versions of nursery “classics”? The ones that you never buy for your own children and you’re always hiding but somehow the kids always find them? The ones that drive you totally nuts but you can’t get rid of them because they’re from someone who will notice if they’re gone?
One such book in our possession offers more humane lyrics to the tune of “Three Blind Mice”:
Three orange cats,
See how they run.
They’re small and furry and rather nice
They’re even kind to the little mice.
Now, I don’t really have a problem with this sort of revisionist history, though it does present a rather inaccurate view of reality. I have enough other things to explain in this cruel, cruel world without adding the violent farmer’s wife to the list.
But there’s another popular revision out there that bugs me. Since we live in a parsonage, we receive approximately a dozen of those stuffed animals that recite “Now I lay me down to sleep” every time we have a baby.
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
And angels watch me through the night,
Until I wake to morning light.
Sure, angels watch over us, and that may be reassuring for kids. But kids can handle the older version, If I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. Do we want to raise stalwart Christian soldiers or spiritual softies? Our four-year-old already understands Heaven and Hell. He will tell you that there are lots of false gods out there that will take you to Hell (his own synthesized version of our ongoing catechesis). He knows that people die because of sin, which is sad, but that people who believe in Jesus will be raised to live on the New Earth, and he’s looking forward to that. In fact, he sometimes uses the paraousia as a frame of reference, as in, “Will we do that before Jesus comes back?” We should all be so eschatologically minded.
Keeping it real: the prayer was altered more for overly-delicate adult sensibilities than for the sake of children, who are remarkably practical-minded about such things. And that’s a shame. So, for that matter, is the annoying, lisping little voice that the manufacturers chose to recite the prayer.
Anyone have other examples of how we squeamish adults alter things because we shy away from subjects that children face matter-of-factly?