Pussycat, Pussycat, Where Have You Been?
I’ve been to London to visit the Queen.
And, pussycat, pussycat what did you there?
I frightened a little mouse under her chair?
Sixteenth Century English Nursery Rhyme (http://www.rhymes.org.uk/pussycat_pussycat.htm)
This simple little nursery song popped into my head recently when I was getting acquainted with my newest grandchild, Lillian Grace, at her parents home in Texas. As I held his child of the 21st century in my arms and sang, I thought about how I had probably first learned the song from my grandmother, Corabelle Marsh, who had probably learned it from her mother, Hibernia O’Connor, back in the 19th Century.
I considered the many things that have changed over those 5 generations, and at the same time marveled at the many things that remain the same. Jobs were changing then almost as fast as they are now. The tinker became a railroad machinist, the sawyer became a timber bender. This trend continues today and is the reason I believe so strongly in educating children in ways that will give them the skills for lifelong learning and, for the need to support our community colleges and adult education, where people can get the new job skills they need today.
In the nineteenth century, families were uprooted and relocated to new and strange lands, just as they are today. Then, they faced a 7 week sea voyage to go the distance we can now travel in under 8 hours. When they got there there, communication with friends and family via sea mail took at least as long as the voyage. Today’s uprooted families can chat all all over the world through the miracle of Skype. Where will little Lillian Grace end up living? Could it be half a world away? Or could it be even farther afield… the Moon? Mars?
Education for girls was not a priority in the 19th century, a condition that, sadly, remains the same today in many societies. When her husband was away from home at the time of the birth of one of her children, Hibernia signed the birth certificate with an “X”. When her next child was born, 2 years later, she proudly signed her full name to the document. Our family has just one photo of her, taken late in life, sitting in a rocker reading a book. I have no idea how or where she became literate as an adult.
Lillian Grace will have access to an excellent education. But, I worry about those girls who are still being denied even a basic education. Will they be able to accomplish as much as Hibernia? How can we help insure they will?
Little Lillian Grace, born in 2010, has a good chance of seeing the 22nd Century. That is a stunning idea to contemplate. What will life be like in 2100? Will anything be the same? What wonders will she see? What will the world be like then? Where will she be when she sings “Pussycat, Pussycat ” to her grandchildren?