Saturday, May 19, 2012

Overthinking the Clean Up Song

Sometimes, it seems as though J and I have been blessed with a child who combines our "best" qualities.  Not only does LO have J's interest in how things work and his tendency to take things apart into their component molecules (see above), he has also inherited my general lack of interest in housekeeping.

All this together means the house often looks like who-did-it-and-ran.

Though he mostly ignores me, I have tried to get LO engaged in the joys of cleaning by singing The Clean Up Song with him.  You know the one:

Clean up clean up
Everybody everywhere
Clean up clean up 
Everybody does their share.

(Not to be confused with Liz Lemon's awesome Clean Up Song interpretation via her former Black Panther kindergarten teacher:

Clean up clean up 
Everybody everywhere
Clean up clean up
Do your own housework, you little crackers!)

Now, despite my inclination to make Liz Lemon's version the one my child grows up with, I have been struggling with the grammar in the original.  Everybody is singular and their is plural.  This will not do.

So, for a short time I was singing "Everybody does his share."  LO is a he, after all.

But, singing The Clean Up Song using the non-specific "his" violates my feminist principles.  I do know that gendered language leaves out half of the population, which is why they and their have colloquially replaced he and his in non-specific pronoun usage.  

I'd hate to have LO growing up thinking that girls are left out of the cleaning responsibility because everybody is doing "his" share.  (Although I doubt the rest of society is really going to let him think girls are off the cleaning hook.)

So, I was thinking I would sing "Everybody does a share" to avoid both my grammar and feminist issues with a song about putting toys away.  Because this is the best use of my brain power.

Then, I looked up the lyrics to the song prior to writing this post and discovered that I have been singing it wrong all along.  The problematic lyric is actually supposed sung: "Everybody do your share."  You'll notice that this nicely avoids all the issues.  And my ridiculous spell of overthinking a children's song (and I'm talking about weeks of thinking about this) was all for naught.

Don't I feel foolish.


  1. I've decided I'm fine with "their" when it should be singular...I'd rather the gender-neutrality than the strict grammar correctness.
    It took me a really long time to get there, though...

  2. YES! I do the exact same thing with disney movies, then complain to my husband about them as he gives me the "you're ridiculous" look.