This rhyme is described as ‘malicious’ in the book I Saw Esau (Opie and Opie 1992). The poem is beautifully illustrated by Maurice Sendak, first showing a child crying on mother’s lap then a series of drawings of the child gradually eating mother. This is what I might describe as a play therapy preoccupation: what is part of me and what is not part of me, can I really eat my mother or will she eat me? From the same book, a skipping rhyme:
Mother, Mother, I am ill! Send for the doctor! Yes, I will.