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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.


11 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Natural // Feb 23, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    kids are a lot smarter than we give them credit for especially when it comes to negotiating. they will pull one over on you if you don’t stay two steps ahead. i prefer to cut my child off at the tracks and burst her bubble and tell her her little scheme won’t work.

    no you need to be paid in money, not cockle shells. there is no equivalent – unless we go back to bartering. it just has to be under the table money. money the government can’t see…of course i’m not saying do anything dishonest here.

    the little people will always pay. nobody takes care of us. the world is unjust my dear friend. unjust, i say!

  • 2 Todd // Feb 24, 2009 at 2:59 am

    Hi Steve,

    LOL, oh yea, those are some smart kids. I love some ice cream, but I think I’m with you … I’d have to steer clear of the cotton candy flavor.

    Actually, don’t tell anybody, but Jaiden and I have already shared a couple of ice cream cones 🙂

    As for cockle shells … hmmm, do you think I could get ebay to load those up into my paypal account? If so, I’m in!

    Keep havin FuN!

  • 3 The Trade Show Guru // Feb 24, 2009 at 10:27 am

    Hi Natural, Thanks for dropping by. Yes, kids are happy to negotiate anything and everything forever if you let them. 🙂 And just to be clear, the only thing I do “under the table” is play footsies with my wife. 🙂
    Hi Todd, What is Jaiden’s favorite flavor of ice cream? It did surprised me that the cotton candy ice cream tasted just like cotton candy. While I was impressed, it just didn’t seem right. 🙂 Cockle shells for everyone!

  • 4 Todd // Feb 25, 2009 at 12:38 am

    Hey Steve,

    I’m not totally irresponsible … she is only 6 months old. So far we’ve shared a dairy queen waffle cone, and a nutty buddy … she had a few licks of the vanilla ice cream. Big smiles seem to confirm that she likes it.

    Hopefully it will take her at least a couple of years to get as smart as your kids … 😉

  • 5 The Trade Show Guru // Feb 25, 2009 at 10:08 am

    Hey Todd,
    Dairy Queen… yum. There aren’t any around here, but we do have a Froster’s Freeze, where they have soft serve and will dip it in the chocolate that turns into a hard shell. Great on a hot day, but messy. The kids love it! 🙂 ~ Steve

  • 6 Mitch // Feb 26, 2009 at 10:28 am

    I love babies, so I thank you for sharing that one with us.

    As for the other, kids are smart but they’re also drawn to exotic and pretty. For instance, I’m not sure most adults would willingly eat blue spaghetti sauce without some coercion, but kids lap that kind of stuff up. That’s what brought about different colored ketchups, something I just couldn’t get myself to try.

    As for cockle shells,… you send me all your money and I’ll send you the equivalent in shells, if they’ll fit in your house. I make that offer because I’m your friend. lol

  • 7 The Trade Show Guru // Feb 26, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    hi Mitch,
    Have you heard the saying, “With friends like this, who needs…” LOL. Just kidding.
    Kids do seem to be drawn to strangely colored food, but something tells me that blue broccoli still wouldn’t be a big hit. I think the food needs to be loaded with sugar too. 🙂 ~ Steve

  • 8 Will // Feb 27, 2009 at 1:24 am

    What a great post Steve! The story about the nursery rhyme is one I have read before. I am just gald I did not know the details when I was a kid.

    Smart kids are great, mine are too, but if you have several, as they get older you will notice something about them. Hard work is what gets them what they want. My oldest is very hard worker and seems to succeed at everything she does. Her younger brother is probably smarter, but likes to have fun, not work hard. Life is much more difficult for him, but not as stressful as it is for older sister! My youngest seems to maybe have the best combination of the two traits. Time will tell.

    And no I don’t think they were going for cutting you out of the ice cream. Kids really do like stuff like cotton candy or bubble gum ice cream. Most kids anyway, Of course I never did. I was big on whole wheat bread and organic vegetables even as a young boy…….

  • 9 The Trade Show Guru // Feb 27, 2009 at 11:46 am

    hi Will,
    It’s funny that you mention “bubble gum” ice cream. Both my wife and I worked at Baskin-Robbins when we were teenagers. She loved bubble gum ice cream, and still does today, but it never appealed to me. But their German Chocolate ice cream, not that’s another story! But don’t get me wrong… we eat plenty of vegies… I love them, the kids are “learning” to love them. 🙂
    Feel free to stop by anytime, especially when you start your comments: “What a great post Steve” 🙂
    And finally, if your kids have learned that hard work is what will get you ahead in life, you are a great parent! ~ Steve

  • 10 Brandon // Mar 1, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    I love posts about kids, we can all be so interested in our blogs, we don’t take time to reflect on the truly important moments in our lives. I have 3 girls under 5…and I swear they are smarter than me most of the time, even my 7 month old. Just today, she wanted some bread out of my wife’s hand, and she just LUNGED for it. Lesson learned, IF YOU WANT SOMETHING IN LIFE, JUST JUMP AT IT AND PRAY THAT YOU DON’T FALL.
    Great post,

  • 11 The Trade Show Guru // Mar 1, 2009 at 11:46 pm

    hi Brandon,
    Sounds like you have a smart seven month old! I think you’re right, that when you want something, sometime it’s best just to go for it! Thanks for stopping by. ~ Steve

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