NURSERY rhymes have deeper meanings than what we understood them to be telling us in nursery... or kinder.

Like Little Bo-Peep as it was taught in Philippine kindergarten. Meaning, not the whole gory story, but just the hopeful single stanza we’ve been taught to sing, which goes...

Little Bo-Peep has lost her sheep,

And doesn't know where to find them.

Leave them alone,

And they'll come home,

Wagging their tails behind them.

Last week, I found three kittens placed in a strung-up plastic bag thrown by the roadside. They’re not newborns, thank, God! But... they were giving me a hard time in finding out what they would eat. They ignored everything: softened cat kibbles, kitten formula, shredded fish... but two gobbled up a pricey cat treat. Except that, the neighborhood mall didn’t have that treat. So, I was left with nothing to give them after the two sachets I had on hand were consumed.

They were crying non-stop in shrill meows. I gave them a saucer of shredded fish, which again they ignored.

It was getting to be stressful hearing their non-stop shrill chorus, and then a thought occurred.

They’re kittens, they have their survival instinct. All I need to do is give them water and food and... leave.

I did. And they shut up. Occasionally, they’d try to raise a ruckus. I ignored them. Will this work? I don’t know, but they’re still alive. Sometimes it’s better to let things be. Prepare a warm place for them, provide them food and water, and leave to let their survival instinct kick in.

This works with humans, too.

On to another story... Googling the origins of the nursery rhyme after reading the long version that was on the gory side (the sheep were not only lost, they lost their tails as well and Little Bo-Peep had to run after them and tack back their tails), I also learned something else... That is: “to play bo-peep” is a 14th-century phrase that referred to being stood in a pillory.

A pillory is a wooden or metal framework where a person being punished is made to stand with his head and hands secured in holes in this framework. It’s a device for public humiliation and physical abuse (like being whipped while rendered immobile by the contraption), and we were made to sing about it in kindergarten. Oh, the dark past of the world cloaked in silly nursery rhymes...

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