This kid's song is too creepy, right?
May 23, 2017 9:14 PM   Subscribe

Just your basic pre-school song about capturing, murdering, INGESTING, regurgitating, and cleaning up what remains of an insect. Creepy or normal?

4 year old little sol comes home singing this baby bumblebee song he learned at pre-kindergarten, complete with hand movements:

I'm bringing home my baby bumble bee
Won't my Mommy be so proud of me
I'm bringing home my baby bumble bee -
OUCH!! It stung me!!

I'm squishin' up my baby bumble bee
Won't my Mommy be so proud of me
I'm squishin' up my baby bumble bee -
EW!! What a mess!!

I'm lickin' up my baby bumble bee
Won't my Mommy be so proud of me
I'm lickin' up my baby bumble bee -
ICK!! I feel sick!!

I'm throwin' up my baby bumble bee
Won't my Mommy be so proud of me
I'm throwin' up my baby bumble bee -
OH!! What a mess!!

I'm wipin' up my baby bumble bee
Won't my Mommy be so proud of me
I'm wipin' up my baby bumble bee -
OOPS!! Mommy's new towel!!

I'm wringin' out my baby bumble bee
Won't my Mommy be so proud of me
I'm wringing out my baby bumble bee -
Bye-Bye baby bumble bee!!

Same teacher that taught this song also warned them not to leave food in their mouthes because "cockroaches will fly into our mouths at night and eat the food our of our mouths. It's true!" sez 4 year old.

This is deeply creepy, right? There's no sweet analogy or something behind to blunt this is there?
posted by sol to Media & Arts (56 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
It's not deeply creepy, it's a silly and nonsensical gross out song for children.
posted by so fucking future at 9:15 PM on May 23 [60 favorites]

I guess it is creepy on some level, but I always thought it was more cute than creepy. We used to sing this at camp. It's just kind of nonsensical mildly gross cuteness. A.k.a. jinx with so fucking future.
posted by limeonaire at 9:16 PM on May 23 [4 favorites]

See also: "The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly." Same genre and similar subject matter, basically?
posted by limeonaire at 9:17 PM on May 23 [7 favorites]

....This is a classic silly gross-out kids's song that has been around forever. If it wasn't this, she'd be going for "great green gobs of greasy grimy gopher guts".

Kids go for gross-out humor for a while. And part of why is because it makes grown-ups uneasy because they think it's creepy and inappropriate.

She's four. This is right about normal.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:18 PM on May 23 [51 favorites]

+1 camp song, and there are worse to come ("when you're sliding into first and you feel something burst...")

+1 songs for even little kids are super creepy ("... when the bough breaks, the cradle will fall...")
posted by salvia at 9:20 PM on May 23 [5 favorites]

How about
"Great green globs of greasy grimy gopher guts,
Mutilated monkey meat,
Chopped up parakeet!
French fried eyeballs swimming in a pool of pus,
And, gosh I forgot my spoon! "

This was from my kids nursery school type summer camp. What can I say? Kids love singing about gross things. Both of my kids are doing fine as young adults, and I imagine they'll someday teach this song to their kids.
posted by jasper411 at 9:22 PM on May 23 [7 favorites]

I have a book that's by a professor who collected kids' folklore - techniques for making wishes, jump rope rhymes, games, etc. - all the kinds of schoolyard and backyard lore from all over the country. There is an entire section devoted to gross-out songs like this. It is part of childhood. Don't fret.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:25 PM on May 23 [4 favorites]

Former school teacher and camper here.

Very popular and common song to teach kiddos of this age.

However, I am with you on the creepy feeling. I LOATHE the swallowed a fly song and the bumblebee song and every other song/rhyme like them and as such did not and never will teach them to any children in my care, ever.
posted by Hermione Granger at 9:30 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]

Aw, I haven't thought of that song in years—my kids are in their twenties now—thank you for the happy memories.

Mildly creepy song and totally normal. Creepy comes naturally to kids, some more so than others. There was some reddit (?) thread about creepy things kids do that was an FPP here a while back. Perhaps you should check that out so that you can begin to desensitize yourself.
posted by she's not there at 9:35 PM on May 23

Super creepy.
posted by studioaudience at 9:35 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]

It's a classic. We sang that song 45 years ago at camp. I was a bit creeped out by that one, but it was really just silly.
posted by Vaike at 9:42 PM on May 23 [4 favorites]

Half of songs for kids are wildly weird, at least. Three Blind Mice, Humpty Dumpty, Rockabye Baby, you name it.
posted by warriorqueen at 9:45 PM on May 23

Is it creepy? That's subjective. If it were creepy, is that bad? Didn't you sing weird little songs when you were a kid? I recall clearly a little song I used to sing when flicking the flowers off of dandelions. It went something like:

Mama had a baby and it's [flick]
head popped off!

The gopher guts song was also a favorite.
See also: Grimm's Fairy Tales, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and several other novelty kid songs already pointed out above.
posted by runcibleshaw at 9:46 PM on May 23 [7 favorites]

Whether or not it's deeply creepy is open to interpretation, I guess. (I vote no.) If your underlying concern is whether your child's teacher is aware of appropriate norms for 4-year-olds, well, as you can see here it's a classic and widely used song among that set.
posted by lalex at 9:54 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]

I don't love the song, but it's not super weird for kids to be learning it.

Now, if I had a kid and said kid's teacher was saying cockroaches would fly into their mouth at night, we'd be having a serious talk. WTF, not cool.
posted by ktkt at 9:55 PM on May 23 [14 favorites]

Well, that sure brought back memories of Beaky Buzzard from Loony Tunes.

I guess you could try teaching her the original lyrics to the tune, The Arkansas Traveler.
posted by jamaro at 9:58 PM on May 23

I used to sing this when I was a kid! I did have a twinge of conscience for the poor bumble bee, but for some reason I was not at all bothered by a similar song about running over a dog with a lawnmower, which my parents forbade me to sing because it bugged them so much.

It does seem a little weird to learn it from the teacher--I feel like one usually learns these songs from peers.
posted by fermion at 10:00 PM on May 23

Now I lay me down to sleep

If I die before I wake

I pray the Lord

My soul to keep.

Yeah, bumblebee song is pretty traditional. Could be worse. The cockroaches at night is weirder
posted by Jacen at 10:00 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]

haha, well, I never heard it before, and the part about killing the baby bee sounds horrifying, but I guess you and I are the only ones who didn't hear it in childhood, OP! This might be like the Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer xmas song -- not meant to taken literally, so to speak.
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:07 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]

I'm, um, relatively old, and I sang this at my summer camp and in my Girl Scout troop. (In fact, before even clicking on "more," I knew exactly what song it was going to be.) I guess it's kind of creepy, now that you mention it, but as others have noted, it's typical kid creepy, along the lines of "Little Bunny Foofoo" or something. I definitely agree it's certainly nothing to be alarmed about.
posted by holborne at 10:16 PM on May 23 [5 favorites]

My sisters and I sang a version of that when we were kids. Mostly to gross out our parents.

Wait til he comes home singing " Found a peanut, found a peanut, found a peeeeenut jus-ust now!" (Further verses: broke it open, it was rotten, ate it anyway, barfed it up, died anyway, went to heaven, found a peanut, etc., etc.,)

Although we were a few years older than four when we were captivated by it. Four does seem a little young.
posted by SLC Mom at 10:25 PM on May 23 [4 favorites]

I sang this song too, I loved it! I honestly didn't think deeply about it till now. I just loved the gross out factor.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:28 PM on May 23

As a child I thought it was a disgusting song. In particular, one friend of mine sang it such that you barfed up the baby bumblebee and then licked it up again, which made me deeply uncomfortable. But literally everyone I knew thought it was hilarious, so.

My four year old just wants to talk about death all the time and occasionally make scatological jokes. I'd take gross-out songs any day. Kids are WEIRD. And they only get weirder. Wait till your kid starts hearing about sex from peers. Then you'll learn the true meaning of "kids say the darndest things"...
posted by potrzebie at 10:47 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]

Children are actually pretty gross and creepy themselves. These sorts of songs delight them because it allows them to explore the boundaries of what's allowed in polite company. It's totally normal for a 4 year old to be into gross humor like that. It seems unpleasant to you because developmentally you're miles ahead of that. But four year olds? They're still getting a grip on why bodily fluids like vomit are fine in some contexts and not others, and why some things that look and taste gross, like broccoli and creamed spinach, are supposedly good to eat and others, like bugs, are not. They're learning nuance, and songs like this are part of that.
posted by Jilder at 10:58 PM on May 23 [12 favorites]

Any chance the bit about cockroaches is the result of slightly misunderstood, but quite reasonable, communication about the importance of brushing teeth? (E.g. "Otherwise bacteria in your mouth eat the food and that's bad for your teeth... what are bacteria? oh, yucky, they're like teensy-tiny bugs you can;t even see because they're so small!... like cockroaches? uh, sure, like cockroaches.")
posted by cogitron at 11:20 PM on May 23 [5 favorites]

That's... not that bad, as kid's songs go?

I mean, Ring Around The Roses is literally about the Black Plague, and I learned a song in grade school called Alouette about plucking and eating a bird, so.
posted by Tamanna at 11:29 PM on May 23 [3 favorites]

It's a super common kids song.

Last weekend, I learned that the tune for this song apparently is the tune to Arkansas Traveler. (My friends who play old time music say they don't perform this one much in public, because most people -- like me -- just know it as the bumblebee song.)
posted by leahwrenn at 12:56 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]

Baby bumblebees, HA! This is what I grew up on (of course that may explain a few things)....

Dont ever laugh
As a Hearse goes by
For you may be the next to die
They wrap you up
In a big white sheet
From your head down to your feet
They put you in a big black box
And cover you up with dirt and rocks
And all goes well
For about a week
And then your coffin begins to leak
And the worms crawl in, the worms crawl out
The worms play pinochle on your snout
They eat your eyes, they eat your noes
They eat the jelly between your toes
A big green worm with rolling eyes
Crawls in your stomach and out your eyes
Your stomach turns a slimy green
And puss comes out like whipping cream
You spread it on a slice of bread
And thats what you eat when your dead
And the worms crawl out and the worms crawl in
The worms that crawl in are lean and thin
The ones that crawl out are fat and stout
Your eyes fall in and your hair falls out
Your brain comes tumbling down your snout
And the worms crawl in, the worms crawl out
They crawl all over your dirty snout
Your chest caves in and your eyes pop out
Your brain turns to saurkraut
They invite their friends, and their friends too
They all come down to chew on you
And this is what it is to die, i hope you had a nice goodbye
Did you ever think as a Hearse goes by
That you might be the next to die
And your eyes fall out and your teeth decay
And that is the end of a perfect... day
-lyrics courtesy of Harley Poe
posted by BoscosMom at 1:11 AM on May 24 [16 favorites]

Consider the itsy bitsy spider.
posted by humboldt32 at 1:25 AM on May 24

capturing, murdering, INGESTING, regurgitating, and cleaning up

You emphasise "ingesting" - did you know that insects are actually a very sustainable source of food? Not bees though, granted.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:33 AM on May 24

That's the first I've heard it and I was thoroughly creeped out. The cockroach thing is over the top.

Hopefully they were just having a creepy themed day and these aren't the kinds of things always being taught.
posted by blackzinfandel at 1:45 AM on May 24

Bumble bee is such a classic camp song.

Were there hand gestures? Be prepared for hand gestures in the future.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 3:52 AM on May 24 [3 favorites]

Children's librarian here. Kids that age are at a stage of life where they are learning a lot about what people do and don't do. Naturally any song, story or performance in which a character is doing something unusual or incorrectly seems very silly to them. That's why Amelia Bedelia seems so hilarious and why if you have a puppet that counts to five "1, 2, 3, 4, Ice Cream Cone!" it will crack them up. They're constantly being instructed on how the world works and how people behave so it's really funny when someone fictional does something that is not aligned with what they know.

Above all that, the bumblebee song also has a gross factor, has an easy to learn tune, and is lyrically repetitive, all of which are factors that make a song very attractive to children. Instead of getting upset by the song, I recommend learning some children's songs that are similarly repetitive and teaching them to your kid. Try the baby shark song, zoom zoom zoom, or down by the bay.
posted by donut_princess at 5:17 AM on May 24 [7 favorites]

I have just remembered my friends sang a variant that only went three verses, with accompanying pantomines and a twist ending; for "bringing home my baby bumblebee" you would cradle a bee in your hand. For "squishing up my baby bumblebee" you would mash it in your hands. And then for 'wiping off my baby bumblebee" in the third verse, you would mime wiping your hands - except the last line wasn't "ew, it's all over me," it was "ew, it's all over YOU", and you would end by wiping your hands on the sleeve of a bystander. Usually that's where the song ended.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:59 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]

I found it creepy too. I actually re-wrote it and self published a version for my kids. I have it up on Imgur as well.
posted by pyro979 at 6:49 AM on May 24

Just to verify that this is a very old song, I learned it on the playground in 1965. Our version ended up with "I'm dying of the baby bumble bee," and the last line was "Ewww, I'm dead."

I agree that it's normal for kids to be interested in things that are gross and macabre. Americans get exposed to Disneyfied versions of fairy tales, but if you look at the originals, they can be really horrifying too.

The cockroach thing bothers me more because that's being presented as a fact. So I would ignore the song and present the correct information on the cockroaches. I was not brought up to think my teachers were always right, and I think that was a good thing.
posted by FencingGal at 6:54 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]

My kid learned an edited version at daycare (bringing home, squishing, wiping off) which I thought was a little sad because who kills bumble bees??? But the gross is part of the fun! She looooved miming the motions and saying EEEWWWW, it was a big hit for a while.

In context, she's three now and she wants me to make up "yucky" songs about poop and pee all the time. Kids think this sort of thing is hilarious.
posted by lydhre at 7:01 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]

When we sang this when I was a kid, we ate the regurgitated bee, as well. So, could be worse.
posted by Riverine at 7:10 AM on May 24 [3 favorites]

The teacher might actually believe the cockroach thing, and is trying to be helpful. You could elaborate on the many other reasons we shouldn't fall asleep with foreign material in our mouths, though.
posted by turkeybrain at 7:19 AM on May 24

N-thing creepy AND normal. My daughter learned it at daycare when she was 2, minus the eating and vomiting verses... but I remember those from my own childhood. For a while, it was the only song she sang without prompting.

Also, I bet that cogitron is on to something with this:
Any chance the bit about cockroaches is the result of slightly misunderstood, but quite reasonable, communication about the importance of brushing teeth? (E.g. "Otherwise bacteria in your mouth eat the food and that's bad for your teeth... what are bacteria? oh, yucky, they're like teensy-tiny bugs you can;t even see because they're so small!... like cockroaches? uh, sure, like cockroaches.")
posted by Kriesa at 7:20 AM on May 24

Go back and re-read Mother Goose sometime. That stuff is hella creepy.

My kiddo learned this song at school a couple of years ago. Yeah, I would never encourage him to eat a bee but the kids don't really get that, they just think it's silly plus it's fun to sing as a group.

So I'm a +1 for the creepy AND normal answer.
posted by vignettist at 7:51 AM on May 24

Another vote for "it's no more creepy than fairy tales."

I wrote a big thing about Cinderella a couple years ago, and it ... gets graphic.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 8:08 AM on May 24 [2 favorites]

Totally normal and creepy.

See also:
Nobody likes me
Everybody hates me
Guess I'll go eat worms

Long, thin, slimy ones
Short, fat, juicy ones
Itsy, bitsy, fuzzy, wuzzy worms.

Down goes the first one
Down goes the second one
Oh, how they wiggle and squirm

Long, thin, slimy ones
Short, fat, juicy ones
Itsy, bitsy, fuzzy, wuzzy worms.

Up comes the first one
Up come the second one
Oh, how they wiggle and squirm

Long, thin, slimy ones
Short, fat, juicy ones,
Itsy, bitsy, fuzzy, wuzzy worms.
posted by carrioncomfort at 8:16 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]

One of my favorite songs as a kid:

Nobody likes me
Everybody hates me
I'm gonna eat some worms

Gonna cut the head off
Suck the juice out
and throw the rest away

Kids are gross and like gross things... I did not grow up to decapitate and eat worms.

I do have to say that cockroach thing is weird coming from a teacher. Is it possible your kid mixed together different things the teacher said into that?
posted by Julnyes at 8:50 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]

Creepy or normal?

I find the song to be pretty gross, but not at all creepy.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:54 AM on May 24

I also knew what song this would be about before I clicked. Like you, I had never heard it until my daughter learned it at daycare - same age, maybe younger. I was kind of flabbergasted by it - so weird, creepy, insane. But I quickly decided it was hilarious and fell in love with it. I love the tune and the hand movements too!
posted by kitcat at 9:43 AM on May 24

Yeah as a kid I'd sing the greasy grimy gopher guts song and many others in the vein. It may be creepy but it isn't really a sign that the kids themselves are messed up.

Side note, the might as well eat some worms song is part of the setup to a sketch from The Kids in the Hall. Which I saw when I was like 10 and loved and seems to hold up. At the time I didn't realize it was a pre-existing song. Anyway, it's on youtube so check it out (I'm still a huge booster of KITH and will bring it up whenever there's a tangential reason to).
posted by Green With You at 11:13 AM on May 24

Kind of similar to the classic, "Found a Peanut."

From the Wikipedia page:

A basic version of the variable lyrics is:

Found a peanut, found a peanut, found a peanut yesterday.
yesterday I found a peanut, found a peanut yesterday.

Cracked it open, cracked it open, cracked it open yesterday
yesterday I cracked it open, cracked it open yesterday.

It was rotten, it was rotten, it was rotten yesterday,
yesterday it was rotten, it was rotten yesterday .

Then it continues with the same rhythm:

Ate it anyway
got sick
called the doctor
couldent save me"
went to Heaven
"met god"
he wouldn't take me
sent back home
went out walking

and restarts from "Found a peanut".

When I learned it, instead of "sent back home," it continued "went the other way," then "met the devil," etc....
posted by mingodingo at 12:48 PM on May 24 [2 favorites]

My classmates and I used to sing, at age 8 or 9 (early 1980s):

On top of Old Smokey
All covered with blood,
I shot my poor teacher
With a .44 slug.

I went to her funeral,
I went to her grave,
And instead of flowers
I threw a grenade.

The grenade it exploded
And blew her to bits,
The police are still looking
For two missing ... feet.

None of us grew up to be a psychopathic killer, as far as I know.
posted by Perodicticus potto at 1:23 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]

Not any creepier than tons of other children's songs/rhymes/games. The bumblebee song is a classic that I remember very well from childhood, as is the found a peanut song. Gross-out, macabre stuff is sort of a thing in childhood, it's a tradition that goes back decades if not centuries.
posted by palomar at 1:29 PM on May 24

If you don't mind updating, I'm curious to hear if you get to the bottom of the cockroach story. I'll confess I'm having a very hard time believing that a teacher would tell a class of four-year-olds that cockroaches will fly into their mouths at night, so I'm inclined to agree that cogitron has it right.
posted by holborne at 1:32 PM on May 24

You have now answered a conundrum for me! My mother is a elementary/middle school music teacher, and one day she and her 5th graders were being silly in music class, and she taught them a parody of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" that she had learned when she was a girl:

Oh, I wear my pink pajamas in the summer when it's hot
And I wear my flannel nightie in the winter when it's not
But sometimes in the springtime, and sometimes in the fall
I jump right in between the sheets with nothing on at all!
Glory, glory, what's it to ya?...

She told me that after she taught them the words (which they found hilariously funny), she worried that a parent would call her upset that she had done so, and I remember wondering, who would be upset at a silly song? I thought her fear was misplaced, but now I see that this sort of silly/gross/risque song is not common to all families.

I personally learned this song as a kid, along with Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts and the Found a Peanut song. I think my aunt taught me the Baby Bumblebee song, actually. My dad learned some good ones way back yonder when he was a Cub Scout, including one to the tune of "Red River Valley" - the only lyrics to that one were "Oh, it's nose-pickin' time in Nebraska!"
posted by chainsofreedom at 1:34 PM on May 24

Ok. The cockroach thing is weird, if true. The song? I know it. I sang most of the other songs mentioned above, and also one set to the tune of Battle Hymn of the Republic with " he landed on the sidewalk like a blob of strawberry jam " and another about eating worms. At least half the fun was getting a rise out of the adults.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 3:24 PM on May 24

Oh dear, I am older than most of you, and remember some version of ALL of these creepy songs from childhood, plus a few more!

Another version of "Battle Hymn":
Glory glory hallelujah/teacher hit me with a ruler/bopped her on the bean with a rotten tangerine/and her teeth came marching out.

Popeye song:
I'm Popeye the sailor man/I live in a garbage can/ I eat all the junk and I stink like a skunk/ I'm Popeye the sailor man.

We Three Kings:
We three kings of orient are/ Tried to smoke a rubber cigar/ it was loaded, it exploded/ BOOM, and now we're on a star.

And a variant of Greasy Grimy Gopher guts:
...mutilated monkey meat/ Eyeballs rolling down the street/ Great green globs of greasy grimy gopher guts/ And I forgot my spoon.
posted by mermayd at 9:49 AM on May 25

We used to sing one almost the one mermayd did, only worse:

Glory, glory hallelujah
Teacher hit me with a ruler
The ruler turned red
and the teacher dropped dead
and that was the end of school
posted by holborne at 1:53 PM on May 25

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