This is how I figure it went down…
Once upon a time there was a nice family that lived in the suburbs, a Mama and a Papa and two young kids. They had a little ranch house that looked the same as all the other houses in the neighborhood. Mama and Papa had good jobs and they had two cars and overall, a pretty good middle class life. One day Mama got pregnant. Nine months later they found themselves in the hospital ready to give birth to another baby.
So there they are, in the birthing room, everybody is screaming and yelling, it’s total chaos, Papa standing there trembling in the corner, freaking out ‘cause he doesn’t know what the hell to do. Mama is yelling shit at him like, “YOU DID THIS TO ME!!” Then Mama’s pushing and yelling and screaming and pretty soon the baby comes out… and the doctor catches the baby…
…and then its head popped off. Seriously… its… head… popped…right… off! Or maybe Mama’s head popped off… you know, I’m not really sure… that parts not totally clear. But whatever, it doesn’t really matter… somebody’s head popped off and that’s just some scary shit. I mean, giving birth is frightening enough when everybody’s head stays on. I remember when my daughter was being born and I’m standing there watching her come out, expecting her to be all clean and fresh, maybe wearing a nice new frilly pink Onsie or whatever. Instead she comes sliding out, her head’s all smashed up, blood and gore everywhere. I’m thinking, yeah this is a frickin’ miracle… it was a miracle that I didn’t throw up.
“Mr. Warner, congratulations on your new baby. Do you want to cut the cord?”
“Uhhh, seriously Doc? Maybe this whole bloody scene won’t come flooding back from your memory banks next time you’re eating a hamburger, but me, yeah I think I’m traumatized for life. Now you want me to cut the cord?”
Okay, I didn’t really say that but I thought it, as I was cutting the cord with this giant pair of scissors that looked like something you’d prune shrubs with. In any case nobody’s head popped off, like happened to those poor suburban folks.
We were at a park today, taking a walk, and my daughter picks up a dandelion, sticks it in my face and says “Mama had a baby and it’s head popped off’ and flicks the flower part of the dandelion off the stem with her thumb. What the hell is that all about? I used to do that as a kid too. I don’t know where she learned it, it’s just one of those things that is passed down from generation to generation and nobody really knows why. So I looked it up but I couldn’t find any answers to the origin of this particular saying about giving birth and heads popping off and how the poor dandelion flower became the victim. One commenter thought it maybe had origins in medieval France and the use of the guillotine, but that didn’t make any sense.
“Mr. LeFevalaurentiereau, congratulations on your new baby. Would you like to cut anyone’s head off?”
“Uhhh, seriously Doc? Maybe this whole bloody scene won’t come flooding back from your memory banks next time you’re eating a Hasenpfeffer sandwich, but me, yeah I think I’m traumatized for life. Now you want me to cut somebody’s head off?”
See that just doesn’t make any sense. So, I guess I’ll never know where the expression “Mama had a baby and its head popped off” came from, and what it has to do with dandelions. That’s okay though… there are clearly more important things to be concerned with…
… like wiping dandelions under your chin to see if you like butter… or was that buttercups?