Songs and stores from childhood are simple which is why we are able to learn them quickly and recall them years later. Like this one:
Jack and Jill sitting in a tree,
First comes love . . . then comes marriage . . . then comes Jack with the baby carriage.
Boys and girls chant this rhyme at the first whisper of romance particularly in primary school. In fourth grade, I received a locket on Valentine’s Day. After that day, he would not speak nor look at me. He was tormented by our classmates who sang the song relentlessly on the playground.
K-I-S-S-I-N-G is not just a childish taunt; the song represents the socially accepted order of love and marriage. Breaking social rules and crossing boundaries is not easy even if we think that we are modern. The Jan van Eyck portrait of marriage still raises eyebrows; the pregnancy of the bride is unexpected in a Renaissance painting perhaps. But then as now, life is not always orderly nor simple. Marriage does not inevitably follow love; marriage does not always last a lifetime and sometimes, the baby carriage remains empty.
These things came to mind recently after a happy young lady placed an order on Etsy . . . she was apologetic about the fact that her beautiful baby boy preceded the wedding. And I wanted to say so many things . . . like sometimes, it is impossible to predict the order of things. But, if there is great love then happiness is sure to follow. No matter what they sing on the playground. In those few days before her wedding, the joy that she communicated was contagious . . . and so was the love.
Links to Selected Sources:
- Miss Lucy’s Playground Songs: http://playgroundsongs.com/2008/08/06/k-i-s-s-i-n-g/
- For Norms, Customs and Values see Pierre Bourdieu.