you go to kindy!
Literature is interesting. We can entertain our imaginations with it. Take the above verse. Many readers may recognise it. For those who don’t, it’s something kids in first-grade say, when another kid has dobbed them in to the teacher for something they did.
Now, the question is: what six or seven year old child could have come up with this verse? Look at the meter. Look at the feminine rhyme (double syllable end-of-line rhyme). Look at the consonance (dibber-dobber) and alliteration (you go to). Gadzooks! This child must have been a prodigy. It is old no doubt, and I haven’t researched where it is thought to come from. (Anyone who wants to contribute this here may do so.) But among the old folk strange things are told to have happened. To enter the area of folk-literature is to encounter the magical world of nature and spirit, of ghosts, faerie, local deities, wights, and many strange and interesting tales, legends, and mythic lore. In Western history, all of this mixes here and there with the more formulated waters of Classical, Christian, and Enlightenment civilisation.
So one can imagine there was a great deal of politics involved in all this mixing. One could even entertain the possibility of a conspiracy for political rebellion. I imagine the village cunning man, a kind of folk healer, or wizard, of the English folk traditions, who foresaw the danger of children dobbing one another in to the stoic, authoritarian teacher of, say, Victorian England. This Victorian education, this pre-Freudian preening, was certainly a threat to the way of life for a folk-healer.
In the classroom, the teacher might say, “Children, there will be no climbing in trees during recess,” and peer around to make sure every child was listening. “Do you hear me Robert!” at which Robert would jolt up in his seat with a “yes sir.” And the cunning wizard would duck down from his vantage point of looking through the window, and race off to construct a spell, in perfect classical verse and meter. Then, recess would inevitably come, and the grey mood of the classroom would scatter for a quarter of an hour as the children played. Robert, still shaken by the morning lesson, would go sit by a tree, an oak, let’s say. And he would look up at it and wonder, why can I not climb it?
At this point, our cunning wizard would move in behind the tree, and whisper his magic words: “Dibber-dobber Cindy, you go to kindy.” Robert remembered kindy, that was just last year. He remembered the freedom before the more serious grade one began. In kindy, the kind Mrs Peters would let them climb trees, provided they were safe and not too high. So Robert, in a burst of rebellion set himself up in the tree, like a squirrel did he climb.
Now children do notice things, often much more than even we post-Victorians may think. In the next moment some of them were pointing at Robert up in the tree and laughing. Then came Cindy, the one who fame would soon immortalise. And yes she told the teacher what was happening.
Out stormed the large and lean grey-trousered figure in less than four strides. He pointed at Robert up in the tree. “Boy,” he yelled, “what are you doing in that tree?” At which all Robert could say between pangs of cut-wrenching fear was:
You go to kindy!