I was talking to my sister Casey, who is eleven this October (1994), about what girls in elementary school do during recess. (We asked my brother what boys do, because they never played the girls' games. He declined to comment.) One popular pastime has always been jumping rope, often while the two kids turning the rope chant a rhyme. I could never jump rope without tripping almost immediately, which revelation was a source of vast amusement to my little sister. Another pastime, open even to the comparatively clumsy, involved chanting or singing a rhyme while clapping hands with another kid (or three). I discovered that kids at the school I went to (in St. Louis, Missouri, USA) use the same songs as ten years ago, with one or two additions probably attributable to children who originally lived elsewhere. I got to wondering how widespread this particular phenomenon is, and figured the most interesting way to find out would be to put it on the web. If you feel inspired to comment, you can reach me at email@example.com. (Perhaps you think this is utter drivel and want to go back.)
The clapping patterns involved are fairly simple, at least for groups of two. (Casey was unable to demonstrate a new complicated four-person style, because my other siblings were not inclined to involve themselves and in any case she'd forgotten how it went.) For example, one common four-beat pattern, usually used for an iambic meter, is performed as follows:
The pattern is repeated until the end of the song, except in some cases where a different pattern is used for the end of the verse.
I didn't write any of these; I have no idea who did. (For all I
know, they sprang full-grown from Zeus's migraine, but somehow I doubt
that.) So far as I know, none are under copyright. (So far as I
know, no one wants to admit to writing any of them...) Some rhymes
may have been garbled in transmission. This package is sold by
weight, not by volume; some settling of contents normally occurs
during shipping and handling. This space for rent: insert your
favorite disclaimer here for a low monthly fee.
Miss Lucy had a baby, His name was Tiny Tim, She put him in the water, To see if he could swim. He drank up all the water, He ate up all the soap, He tried to eat the bathtub but it wouldn't go down his throat. Miss Lucy called the doctor, The doctor called the nurse, The nurse called the lady with the alligator purse. In walked the doctor, In walked the nurse, In walked the lady with the alligator purse. Measles said the doctor, Mumps said the nurse, Nothing said the lady with the alligator purse. Out walked the doctor, Out walked the nurse, Out walked the lady with the alligator purse. / with Tiny Tim in her purse.back to the index...
Timing is crucial to the (typically-grade-school) humor.
The last verse is optional.
Miss Lucy had a steamboat, The steamboat had a bell, Miss Lucy went to heaven and the steamboat went to Hello operator, Give me number nine, And if you disconnect me I will kick you in th' Behind the 'frigerator, There was a piece of glass. Miss Lucy sat upon it and she broke her little Ask me no more questions, Tell me no more lies, Miss Lucy's in the bathroom, Baking chocolate pies. / With forty naked guys. She dyed her hair in purple, She dyed her hair in pink, She dyed her hair in polka dots and washed it down the sink.back to the index...
This song has a different pattern at the end of the verse. On the word "cross", put your left hand on your chest slightly below your right shoulder and vice versa, so that your arms cross. On "down", slap your hands on your knees (or general vicinity). I think the half-past-n part may have been different too, but I can't recall what. The numbers are drawn out to two syllables. The rhymes for the numbers are not really fixed and I'm not sure if these are what we usually used. Casey did not know this song.
When Billy boy was o-one, He learned to suck his thumb. Thumb, Billy, thumb, Billy, Half - past - one Cross down When Billy boy was two-o, He learned to tie his shoe. Shoe, Billy, shoe, Billy, Half - past - two Cross down When Billy boy was three-e,etc.
back to the index...
This song starts with your left pinkie hooked into your friend's right pinkie, and vice versa. Swing your hands instead of clapping, through the word "playmate" which has to be stretched to three beats; then start a four-clap pattern immediately, and launch into "come.." on the third clap. Sort of difficult to describe. The lines thereafter should coincide with the start of the pattern, which means that a couple claps at the end of most lines don't get syllables. On the "more"s, stop the pattern and clap hands with your friend (left to right and vice versa). You can also stop to rub your eyes exaggeratedly on the "boo hoo"s if you feel really inspired.
See see oh playmate, Come out and play with me, And bring your dollies three, Climb up my apple tree, Slide down my rainbow Into my dresser drawer And we'll be jolly friends For ever more more moremoremoremore. See see oh playmate, I cannot play with you. My dollies have the flu, Boo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo. Can't slide down rainbows Into your dresser drawer, But we'll be jolly friends For ever more more moremoremoremore.We were sadistic kids and liked singing this parody best.
See see oh enemy, Come out and fight with me, And bring your weapons three, Climb up my poison tree, Slide down my razor blade, And through my dungeon door, And we'll be enemies, For ever more more shut-the-dungeon-door.back to the index...
This is a more recent song than the others. It might have originated as a jumprope rhyme.
Snickers taste good, Like a, mmmm-candybar should. Ooh, my, want a piece of pie. Pie too sweet, want a piece of meat. Meat too tough, want to ride the bus. Bus too full, want to ride a bull. Bull too black, want my money back. Money too green, want a jelly bean. Bean too red, want to go to bed. Bed too soft, throw the pillow off. Now close your eyes And count to ten And if you mess up Start over again, so One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten!back to the index...
I've forgotten most of this one and didn't get a chance to ask my sister for the rest of the words. It starts like this.
Cinderella, Dressed in yellow, Went downstairs to meet a fellow.back to the index...
Insert the jumper's name in the place of the first "Someone", and a guy's name in the place of the second "Someone": be creative enough and she will probably trip on purpose. (I guess my inability to jump rope wasn't all that bad a thing...) The counting goes on until the jumper misses.
Down in the valley where the green grass grows, There sat Someone as pretty as a rose. She sang, she sang, she sang so sweet, Along came Someone and kissed her on the cheek. How many kisses did she get? One, two, three, four, ...back to the index...
I probably messed this one up a bit; I didn't hear it performed through very often. For each action of the teddy bear, the jumper performs either that action or a motion intended to symbolize it. Casey claims she can actually untie and tie her shoe without missing. There should be a line to rhyme with the shoe business, but at the moment I can't recall it.
Teddy bear, teddy bear, Turn around. Teddy bear, teddy bear, Touch the ground. Teddy bear, teddy bear, Tie your shoe. (I forget a line in this verse.) Teddy bear, teddy bear, Go upstairs. Teddy bear, teddy bear, Say your prayers. Teddy bear, teddy bear, Say good night. Teddy bear, teddy bear, Turn out the light.back to the index...
This is a recent import (or possibly invention) that one of Casey's friends taught her in the interests of annoying fellow school bus riders. I think they are still in the process of adding verses. It involves symbolic hand motions (no hand clapping or rope jumping). Here the verb "went" is the past tense of "to go", in its current slang sense: to speak, sound, or otherwise emit noise. "Kiddo", a sort of diminutive of "kid", is used for its extra syllable.
When Miss Lucy was a baby, A baby, a baby, When Miss Lucy was a baby, She went like this: Waaaah! (Rub your eyes) When Miss Lucy was a toddler, A toddler, a toddler, When Miss Lucy was a toddler, She went like this: Waaaah! Gimme a sucker! When Miss Lucy was a kiddo, A kiddo, a kiddo, When Miss Lucy was a kiddo, She went like this: Waaaah! Gimme a sucker! (whining) Mommy! I want a balloon! When Miss Lucy was a teenager, A teenager, a teenager, When Miss Lucy was a teenager, She went like this: ... sucker! Ooh! (put one forearm diagonally across chest) Ah! (do the same with the other arm) Lost my bra! Left it in my boyfriend's car! When Miss Lucy was a teacher, A teacher, a teacher, When Miss Lucy was a teacher She went like this: ... car! Who stole the chalk?! (shake finger menacingly) When Miss Lucy was a grandma A grandma, a grandma, When Miss Lucy was a grandma, She went like this: ... chalk?! Oh, my aching back! (put hand on back)back to the index...