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My Kids Are Smart… cockle shells

February 23rd, 2009 · 11 Comments · The Joy of Fatherhood

I realized I haven’t written anything for my “Joy of Fatherhood” category for a while, so I am writing this post. My kids are smart. I know all parents claim their kids are smart, and it can get tiresome to listen too, but my kids are different. I think if you will bear with me and read this, you’ll have to agree. I’m also going to discuss cockle shells, and what they have to do with my kids being smart.

Now I know many parents think their kids are geniuses, hence a company named “Baby Einstein” makes a lot of money off of these vain folk. I’m not claiming my kids are geniuses, just smart, and this is why. This weekend we went out for lunch, in part to do our part to stimulate the economy.  We had lunch at Chipotle, a great place for good, tasty burritos at a reasonable price (I’m trying to stimulate the economy, not single-handedly support it). Anyway, after the burritos, I decided to splurge and surprise my four year old son and six year old daughter with ice cream. Being the big spender that I am, we bypassed Ben and Jerry’s and went into Rite Aid (formerly a Thrifty’s drug store). They have an ice cream counter where you can get a scoop for 89 cents, I think. As an aside, does anyone else remember when you could get a scoop of ice cream at Thrifty’s for a nickle, or was is a dime? And why does Thrifty’s smell funny? Well, back to the ice cream. I don’t get ice cream for myself, because I weigh more than enough as it is. But I do enjoy taking a bite or two (or three or four) from each of my kids’ ice cream cones. Usually my son will get strawberry or mint chip, and my daughter will get chocolate chip or cookies-and-cream. Well, this time they saw “cotton candy” ice cream that was glow-in-the-dark blue and pink. Both of them asked for it. I recognized immediately that I wouldn’t want to eat any of it, and tried hard to convince them to get something else. They held firm, and got the cotton candy ice cream. I did try a lick. It did taste like cotton candy, and I had no more. So I’m wondering, did they really want it, or did they recognize that by getting that obnoxiously colored and flavored concoction that they’d be able to eat ALL of their ice cream without Dad taking his “cut.” I think the later. Hence I think my kids are smart.

This event got me thinking… my kids picked a flavor of ice cream that I didn’t want, and they didn’t have to share. This realization then got me to further thinking of cockle shells. You see, it seems like the Federal Government is bailing out everybody but me. Well, me and the other responsible people in this country who don’t believe in buying things we can’t afford or loaning money to people who can’t pay it back, and those of us who had parents that taught us to recognize a Ponzie scheme when we saw on, and that if something sounded too good to be true it probably was, that there is no free lunch, and that risk offers both rewards and consequences… Well, as I said, I’m not getting bailed out. I also know that money doesn’t grow on trees, and in the long run I’ll be paying more in taxes because of this. And that got me to thinking. When I get paid in dollars, the government takes part of it. Maybe that’s my problem, dollars. Maybe like my kids, I need to find the equivalent of cotton candy ice cream to get paid in. And then it hit me… cockle shells. I think I need to get paid in cockleshells. Do you really thing that Washington is going to take a percentage of my cockle shells? Now I just need to see if I can pay for the ice cream at Rite Aid with my cockle shells.

By the way, my kids may be smart, but if you want to see a cute baby, check out Baby Jaiden.

UPDATE: I was doing a quick Google search for “cockle shells” to see if it was one word (cockleshells) or two words (cockle shells) and saw on the Google results page the snippet, “The ‘cockleshells’ were believed to be instruments of torture which were…”

This Google snippet was referring to the origins of the nursery rhyme, “Mary Mary Quite Contrary“, which is where I believe I originally learned the term “cockle shells”. For those unfamiliar with “Mary Mary Quite Contrary”, it goes like this:

Mary Mary quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockle shells
And pretty maids all in a row.

Anyway, I could not resist and clicked through to read more about cockleshells being torture devices. This is what I read:

The origins are steeped in history… Bloody Mary!
The Mary alluded to in this traditional English nursery rhyme is reputed to be Mary Tudor, or Bloody Mary, who was the daughter of King Henry VIII. Queen Mary was a staunch Catholic and the garden referred to is an allusion to graveyards which were increasing in size with those who dared to continue to adhere to the Protestant faith – Protestant martyrs.

Instruments of Torture!
The silver bells and cockle shells referred to in the Nursery Rhyme were colloquialisms for instruments of torture. The ‘silver bells’ were thumbscrews which crushed the thumb between two hard surfaces by the tightening of a screw. The ‘cockleshells’ were believed to be instruments of torture which were attached to the genitals!

The ” Maids” or Maiden was the original guillotine!

The ‘maids’ were a device to behead people called the Maiden. Beheading a victim was fraught with problems. It could take up to 11 blows to actually sever the head, the victim often resisted and had to be chased around the scaffold. Margaret Pole (1473 – 1541), Countess of Salisbury did not go willingly to her death and had to be chased and hacked at by the Executioner. These problems led to the invention of a mechanical instrument (now known as the guillotine) called the Maiden – shortened to Maids in the Mary Mary Nursery Rhyme. The Maiden had long been in use in England before Lord Morton, regent of Scotland during the minority of James VI, had a copy constructed from the Maiden which had been used in Halifax in Yorkshire. Ironically, Lord Morton fell from favor and was the first to experience the Maiden in Scotland!

~ source:

Well, I guess one learns something new every day. I don’t plan on explaining this nursery rhyme to my kids anytime soon though… Instead I’ll just take my smart kids to get cotton candy ice cream and I’ll see if Rite Aid will accept my cockle shells for payment.


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