Stephen and I were discussing “Where is Thumbkin?” the other day. I had shared with him my concern about the lack of female members of the finger/hand family. We’re first time parents here, so we’re very intentional about what goes into little Abby’s impressionable mind, and this non-traditional family paradigm in our daughter’s favorite song was giving us some trouble.
Stephen asserted that Thumbkin should be understood to be the mother. He equated asking her “How are you today, sir?” to calling a woman Mrs.– and then using her husband’s first and last name.
I said no dice. First of all, “Mrs.” is still a feminine title even if it is followed by a man’s name. Under no circumstances is it socially appropriate to call a woman “sir.”
Besides, I took issue with the gender stereotyping. Why is it that the short, fat finger has to be the mom? And if poor Thumbkin is the mother of the rest of the finger brood, why is she the one who has to make the first move in socializing with the other hand? What kind of leadership is this from the husband (the Tall Man, I presume, admittedly engaging in a little stereotyping of my own…)?
We could not untangle this complicated web; so, the conundrum remains.