But reading them now I can see how many also poked fun at social figures, men and women, with plenty of sexual overtones that would escape children completely – though not their parents, particularly at the time of the rhyme's invention, I'll bet.
Mum knew well, instinctively, the enormous worth of verse and song, rhythm and rhyme, and how valuable they were to our neural development.
Thus she read and sang them to us and we sang them with her while looking at the pictures. Links and associations developed in our brains and cemented memories there. The alphabet was learned with no effort. Pre-TV Sesame Street in our own accent, some nursery rhymes were.
Dressed in black
Eeny meeny miny mo....
A lot of these games were girls' games, but in a small country town there was a good deal of cross play. I had three sisters and many girl cousins, and in the spare time in the weekend, boys and girls would often play the same games, whether rounders or skipping. When numbers were short and you needed a backstop in rounders, it didn't pay to be too choosy.
We boys were a bit funny about this, as it was pretty much a girl's art, but sometimes a strange fancy took us all and we'd decide to play as well.
The girls didn't mind. Society was still strongly gendered; the Swinging Sixties were yet to arrive. This was one thing they surely proved publicly that they did better than the boys. They were happy to demonstrate it and remind males of their inferiority in these quite physical pursuits.
That action doubled the pace and the skill required. Even to 'run in' without stopping either rope was quite a challenge and required split-second timing and coordination.