Inappropriate children’s songs


Now that Kai is beginning to learn and mimic, we are starting to be more mindful of the songs we sing to him. Especially children’s songs.

On our banned wagon now is the French ditty Alouette, which we thought was about a skylark.

It is about a skylark, and the cruel thing (plucking its feathers) the singer does to it.

The song gets really awful at the end, when the singer goes:

And your neck
And your back
And your wings
And your feet
And your tail
Alouette, gentille Alouette
Alouette, je te plumerai

Skylark, I shall pluck you

The other song we’re considering either banning or changing the lyrics of is the Chinese children’s song called “Ke Ren Lai Kan Ba Ba” (There’s a visitor to see Daddy), in which the child sings:

A visitor came,
To see Daddy.
Daddy was not home.
I invited the visitor in and asked him to sit
And gave him a cup of tea

I know, right? WTF? You’d smack your kid if he did that. He could’ve let in Jehovah’s Witnesses, debt collectors, travelling salesmen, NEA inspectors even if he didn’t let in criminals or something!

So we’re changing the lyrics to something (I’ll get Naomi’s mum to translate it back to Chinese) like:

When a visitor comes
And says he’s looking for Daddy
And Daddy’s not home
I’ll tell him Daddy said get lost
See this cup of tea?
It’s hot and will scald your face
If you don’t step away right now.

Scary songs for children

We’re still learning how to put Kai to bed, or simply to calm him down. Talking and singing softly is one of the things we find works.

We’ve been singing to Kai some of the songs we know from when we were kids. And yes, we already knew that ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’, ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep‘ and The Alphabet Song all have the same tune.

But it’s the lyrics of some of the songs that can be scary. Take the Chinese version of Frere Jacques (Are You Sleeping Brother John) for instance.

For one, it’s got nothing to do with a sleeping brother John, but two tigers with what insurance companies call total disabilities. It goes something like:

Two tigers
Two tigers
Running fast
Running fast
One has no eye(s)
One has no tail
How odd
How odd

Don’t bluff lah, what odd? You ate the tail and eyes for medicinal reasons, you Chinese children’s song composer! That’s why the poor cats are running!

Kai might sleep well after, but I’m more afraid of myself going to bed having nightmares of deformed tigers.

So I’ve taken to humming instead, but Naomi thinks that’s copping out. She’s chosen to make up nonsense lyrics which are not scary like Chinese songs are, and which incorporate Kai’s name somewhere, so they could go:

Something something Baby Kai, something something Baby Kai.

But she also found what someone called ‘the best and worst song I’ve? ever heard in my life’, and what’s probably gonna be the song we sing to Kai for until we get sick of it: