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Terrifying Lullabies We Love

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As part of my baby daughter's nightly bedtime routine, I sing her a lullaby right before I place her in her crib to sleep. It's a sweet time, me singing to my baby while I rock her gently in my arms. It makes me feel like a real, legit mother. It's one of those scenes that is always included in the "Where did the time go?" montage that plays when the mom sends her daughter off to college. That scene, along with the learning to ride a bike, and coming down the stairs in her prom dress, is a must for the mom montage. I love to sing to my daughter while we sit or sway in the dark of her nursery. Sometimes I even whisper-sing the song to make the moment more tender (eat your heart out, Anne Hathaway).

I have my favorite modern songs I like to sing to my baby, but sometimes I like to take it old school and sing some traditional lullabies. The other night as I was crooning "Rock-a-Bye Baby" in my lullaby smile-voice to my daughter, I stopped to ponder how awful the lyrics are. That got me thinking of other lullabies and their lyrics, and I decided that despite whatever political or social statements they may have been trying to make at the time they were created, traditional lullabies are pretty wack. Check these out.

Rock-a-bye Baby

We all know the lyrics to this one. It's a common scenario, really. A baby is just hanging out in her cradle high up in a tree. All is well, until a gust of wind blows the cradle AND the baby out of the tree. That wind was really something, I mean, it really sent that baby down. Cradle and all.


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How about good ol' Brahms' Lullaby. Thousands of plush toys and baby swings have been rockin' this song since the mid-1800s. I like to refer to this one by its "hip" name, "Wiegenlied: Guten Abend, Gute Nacht." It's a beautiful song, but I hadn't a clue about the lyrics past the "lullaby and goodnight" part and normally just hum the rest of the song. Well, I thought I might try to learn the lyrics and looked them up:

Lullaby and goodnight, with roses bedight

With lilies o'er spread is baby's wee bed

Lay thee down now and rest, may thy slumber be blessed

Lay thee down now and rest, may thy slumber be blessed

Lullaby and goodnight, thy mother's delight

Bright angels beside my darling abide,

They will guard thee at rest, thou shalt wake on my breast,

They will guard thee at rest, thou shalt wake on my breast

My favorite part is that after all the talk of beautiful flowers and angels, it ends with boobs.

This is a perfect song to sing, if you are either an English nanny or a man wearing tights. If you know the words and sing this song, you probably also regularly attend Renaissance Faires. And let's face it, you may as well buy the little tyke her very own Dungeons & Dragons set now. The lyrics are quite lovely. My favorite part is that after all the talk of beautiful flowers and angels, it ends with boobs. T&A always sell seats.

Hush, Little Baby

Hush, little baby, don't say a word.

Papa's gonna buy you a mockingbird

And if that mockingbird won't sing,

Papa's gonna buy you a diamond ring

And if that diamond ring turns brass,

Papa's gonna buy you a looking glass

And if that looking glass gets broke,

Papa's gonna buy you a billy goat

And if that billy goat won't pull,

Papa's gonna buy you a cart and bull,

And if that cart and bull turn over,

Papa's gonna buy you a dog named Rover

And if that dog named Rover won't bark

Papa's gonna buy you a horse and cart

And if that horse and cart fall down,

You'll still be the sweetest little baby in town

I'd love to see this baby's nursery. And sheesh Paps, can't you get anything right? Quit buying things from that shady shopping website. But don't worry, if you fail to win your child's love and affection through material spoils, just pump her up and tell her she's still the sweetest baby around. As if having weird birds and carts have anything to do with her being sweet. And as if it was her fault that you bought her bunk stuff.

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Are You Sleeping (Frère Jacques)

Frère Jacques, Frère Jacques,

Dormez-vous? Dormez-vous?

Sonnez les matines, sonnez les matines

Ding ding dong, ding ding dong

Are you sleeping, are you sleeping?

Brother John, Brother John?

Morning bells are ringing, morning bells are ringing

Ding ding dong, ding ding dong

First off, if you're not French and you're singing this in French, admit it, you're being kind of obnoxious. Secondly, could the French not have spent more than five minutes composing this song? Guess they didn't have to. The French can elevate the simple and mundane to the instantly sophisticated with their effortlessly sexy attitude and language. The French sound so chic and cool, they could make a Nickelback song bearable. And I don't know who this Brother John is, but he sounds pretty damn fantastic.

Although I'm clowning the lyrics, I'll never stop singing these lullabies. They're classics, and you can't have the full baby experience without them. I'll keep hushing my baby with taunts of cheap diamond rings and billy goats. And I'll keep rocking my baby in a tree. But tonight, baby's getting "Sweet Child o' Mine" in a whisper-sing.

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