I heard a child sing Mary Had a Little Lamb the other day, and instantly I knew what I would write about this week. Not to disparage the author, Sarah Josepha Hale, but I have an issue with this poem. Here’s the song in its entirety, for your reference:
Mary had a little lamb,
His fleece was white as snow,
And everywhere that Mary went,
The lamb was sure to go.
He followed her to school one day,
Which was against the rule,
It made the children laugh and play
To see a lamb at school.
And so the teacher turned it out,
But still it lingered near,
And waited patiently about,
Till Mary did appear.
“Why does the lamb love Mary so?”
The eager children cry.
“Why, Mary loves the lamb, you know.”
The teacher did reply.
While I’m sure that Mary and the sheep loved each other, did anyone ever stop to think the lamb was just trying to get an education? Lambs/sheep are not dogs… we don’t follow people around out of shear loyalty (not a typo, BTW). We’re well educated. Take a look at everyone on the show: Me, Bob… (ah, yeah, that’s it, just Bob and me). Anyway, we’re smart, we know how to read, write, report, and play games such as Age of Napoleon and China Rails. Find me a dog who can play Hot Tin Roof without salivating and running off to look for a cat to chase. Let’s face it, children’s songs are often inaccurate and should be enjoyed for their musical value only and not used as a source of learning about the subject matter.
This leads me to a related topic. It seems there have been a few rumors floating around lately about the sheep here on The Bob & Angus Show. Time to put my hoof down and dispel some of these myths.
- Bob, Angus and I all like to be heard, not herded
- Not all fleece is as white as snow (mine is, of course, but have you seen Angus’s? Talk about having a ‘black sheep’ in the family!)
- Bob is not the model for the wool resource card in Settlers of Catan! (sheep DO NOT all look alike!)
- Sheep do not eat everything in sight (goats do, but sheep don’t – we have a discriminating palette.)
- Yes, wet wool smells, but it’s not something we can control (and no, there is no such thing as sheep deodorant).
There, I feel much better now that I’ve had my say. If you have any other childhood poems you’d like me to clairify (again, not a typo), feel free to email me.
Sing with your children, but don’t be fooled by the lyrics!