About midnight last night, I woke up with this nursery rhyme going through my head:
Deedle, deedle, dumpling, my son John,
Went to bed with his stockings on. . . .
But that’s all I remembered. What was the rest? (It was so cold, I was wearing my own socks to bed.) I tossed and turned thinking of it. I finally got up and Googled the words on my computer. The nursery rhyme came right up. The rest is:
One shoe off, the other shoe on.
Deedle, deedle, dumpling, my son John.
Where did I hear that before? It was very familiar.
My wife knew it, and she rarely knows nursery rhymes. Her Japanese-American mother and father did not read English nursery rhymes to her. Usually, I am surprised at the well-known rhymes that she doesn‘t know. Then we both remembered. It was in a book of nursery rhymes that she read to our sons.
It was an English Mother Goose nursery rhyme originally published in 1797, sometimes written, “Diddle, diddle, dumpling, . . . ” which was the chant of street vendors selling dumplings (they say). And sometimes it is written John goes to bed with his trousers on. Variations are common in folk jingles.
(“Jack” is more common in place of “John” in nursery rhymes. “Dumpling” here may simply designate any small, chubby child. Whoever is reciting it gets to decide.)