USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘Childhood’
Game
Gestures
Humor
Musical

Happy Llama

Text

Happy llama

Sad llama

Mentally disturbed llama

Super llama

Drama llama

Big fat mama llama

Llama llama llama llama

Duck

Coyote

Giraffe

Elephant

 

Background

The informant learned this song while attending an elementary school in the orange county area. She said that she and her friends would sing the song to a handshake similar to patty cake followed by hand gestures that represented the animals they chanted at the end. They would also occasionally sing it while playing jump rope.

 

Context

The informant goes to college in Southern California and grew up in Orange County. She attended a reputable public school in the orange county area.

 

Thoughts

The song itself is not particularly significant and was most likely just used as a form of entertainment on the playground. However, as the informant was sharing the song with me, several of her friends who were in the room chimed in, saying that they also knew the song but knew different versions of it. All of the girls grew up in very different areas across the country, so it is interesting that this song was able to be passed along such vast distances. Additionally, the version of the song that a  person knows might be a way of indicating what school he or she went to or where he or she grew up. In this way, the version song is a representation of the specific culture it is performed at. Upon doing further research, I found a version that replaced “mentally disturbed llama” with “totally rad llama.” The concept of being “mentally disturbed” is a little dark for a children’s rhyme and it could have been edited out of other cultures’ versions for this reason. If this is true, it would say something about what that culture deems acceptable and unacceptable for children.

 

For another version of the song, please go to: https://campsongs.wordpress.com/2012/05/04/llama-song-the-one-with-actions/

Other version:

Happy llama / upright llama

Sad llama / point llama down

Totally rad llama / turn llamas on their side towards each other and shake up and down

Super llama / scoop llamas upward

Drama llama / make llamas kiss

Big fat momma llama / join llamas together by by putting two pointer fingers down

Baby llama / place llamas on dimples

Crazy llama / circle llamas around your ears

Don’t forget Barack Ollama / scoop llamas upward

Fish, fish, more fish / place right hand out, palm down, then left hand on top, roll hands around each other on “more” and return them to original position on last “fish”

Turtle / Hands together, palms down

UH! / pull turtle into stomach

Unicorn / make horn on head

Peacock! / put arms out to side with fingers spread like feathers

 

Folk Beliefs
Game
general
Humor

Cheese Touch

Text

“Cheese touch” a game of tag

 

Background

The informant told me that she learned this game while in elementary school and that she’s noticed that most people played this game when they were younger, even if they did not go to her school. The game originally came from the popular book “The Diary of a Wimpy Kid” when a character touched a piece of moldy cheese and was diagnosed with “the cheese touch.” This game quickly caught on with elementary school children across the nation, even with kids who did not read the book. The game was essentially tag, but instead of “being it” it was called having the cheese touch. The informant notes that it was occasionally used to bully other children (popular kids would sometimes give the touch to a kid they thought was weird so that they would have an excuse to run away from or ignore said kid). She said that boys would mostly give it to other boys unless a boy had a crush on a girl, in which case he would give it to her. She confessed that she never really believed in the cheese touch but that it was just a fun game to play on the black top.

 

Context

The informant goes to a school in Southern California and grew up in Newport beach where she attended a nice public school.

 

Thoughts

While this game was just something that the kids used to entertain themselves during recess, it gives insight on how young children socialize with one another. I find it interesting that the children would use the same strategy on a kid they were bullying and the kid they “had a crush on.” Because children have no prior relationship experience, they don’t know how to handle romantic feelings and may resort to this tactic in order to express their emotions.

 

Game
Musical

Lemonade Crunchy Ice

Text

Lemonade

Crunchy ice

Squeeze it once

Squeeze it twice

Lemonade

Crunchy ice

Squeeze it once

Squeeze it twice

Turn around

Touch the ground

Kick your boyfriend out of town

Freeze

 

Background

When the informant was younger she would do it with her close friends as an activity to do at church. She first learned it from her friend when she was about 8 years old. This version is specific to her region (San Diego) and has found that her friends who grew up in different cities do it differently. She says that it kept her entertained enough to want to go back to church and that she may have found church boring otherwise. It also made her interact with other kids at church- formed a little community. She says that the adults at church encouraged the song even though it had nothing to do with religion. She later shared this song with her friends at school.

 

Context

The informant goes to college in Southern California and grew up in the San Diego area where she attended both a Christian private school and church every sunday. She also attended weekly bible study where she learned this song.

 

Thoughts

This song was definitely used as a form of entertainment but it was also used as a way to socialize and form new relationships. The informant used this song as an icebreaker to make new friends. Additionally, knowing this song gave her some sense of being apart of a group because all of her friends also knew the song, and if she wanted to be friends with someone new, she would teach her the song. She also noted that she refused to ever teach the song to boys because she was still at an age when she didn’t like boys. Having a secret song with her girl friends made her feel like she was apart of the superior gender, in a way.

 

For another version of this song, go to: http://funclapping.com/song-list/lemonade-crunchy-ice/

 

Alternate version:

Lemonade, crunchy ice

Beat it once, beat it twice.

Lemonade, crunchy ice

Beat it once, beat it twice.

Turn around, touch the ground, FREEZE.”Lemonade” is a clapping game that can be played traditionally with 2 children or with several kids all together. To play in a group the children will clap three times after these words – lemonade, crunchy ice, beat it once, beat it twice. After that the lines are repeated except you don’t need to clap three times at the end. The game ends by turning around, touching the ground and then freezing. The first one to move is out.

 

general

I got singles in my britches

Text

I got singles in my britches

Yes I do

Yeehah (x2)

I got singles in my britches

and it really really itches

(turn around and scratch butt)

I got singles in my britches

Yes I do

Yeehah

I got doubles in my britches

Yes I do

Yeehah (x2)

I got doubles in my britches

and it really really itches

(turn around and scratch butt)

I got doubles in my britches

Yes I do

Yeehah

I got tipples in my britches

Yes I do

Yeehah (x2)

I got triples in my britches

and it really really itches

(turn around and scratch butt)

I got triples in my britches

Yes I do

Yeehah

I got home runs in my britches

Yes I do

Yeehah (x2)

I got home runs in my britches

and it really really itches

(turn around and scratch butt)

I got home runs in my britches

Yes I do

Yeehah  

 

Background

The informant use to sing this song at her soft ball games. They would use this song as a way to not only boost their own morale, but to also intimidate the other team. The song made her feel proud of herself and proud of her team.

 

Context

The informant goes to college in Southern California and grew up in Newport beach where she attended a nice public school.

 

Thoughts

This song boosted the team’s morale, as the informant said it did, but it also gave them a way of feeling like they were truy apart of a group. It was a way to separate them from the other team. Knowing the song was also a way of separating themselves from people who did not play softball or baseball and may not know the song or even what “singles” or “doubles” mean.

 

Folk Beliefs
Humor

Kissing your elbow

Text

INFORMANT: My dad use to always tell me that if you could kiss your elbow it would turn you into the opposite gender.

 

Background

The informant actually believed this myth to be true when he was little. He originally learned it from his dad but heard it again from his classmates.He found the myth entertaining and said it gave him this belief that there is some sort of magic in the world. He notes that he was scared of becoming a girl and therefore scared of kissing elbow.

 

Context

The informant grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana and is currently in his early 50s, living in Dallas, Texas.

 

Thoughts

This myth plays into the childhood disdain for the opposite gender. This “boys rule and girls drool” mentality makes the idea that there is a way to turn into the option gender a very scary one. Additionally, a child growing up in the south in this time would be very unfamiliar with the transgender community, so the concept of changing genders did seem magical and strange. The aspects made the myth very entertaining for the informant and his friends.

 

Proverbs

The Eagle with Brains Hides its Claws

Piece:

Interviewer: “Do you have any advice or something that your parents told you that you still remember?”

I.N.: “Well… kinda… your mom’s Bachan was so mean to me. I would call my mother crying… crying. She would say to me ‘the eagle with brains, hides it claws.’  I think she meant that no matter how mean someone is to you, don’t let them provoke you, you know. So I was always held my tongue when she was around!”

*the informant is elderly and does not speak Japanese as fluently as she once did. Although the original proverb was in Japanese, she could not recall how to speak the proverb in Japanese*

Informant:

Informant I.N. is an elderly Japanese woman. She was born in a Japanese Internment camp and grew up with second generation Japanese American parents who spoke primarily Japanese. She was raised in south Los Angeles in an area that was mostly filled with Japanese American Immigrant workers. She came from a middle class family. Her mother ran a boarding house and her father was a gardener. She moved to northern California in her twenties and raised her family there. She still resides in Northern California today and spend much of her time volunteering at the San Jose Japanese Town Yu-Ai Kai Senior Center and Buddhist Church.

Context:

Informant I.N. and I were sitting at a restaurant for lunch and I thought I would ask a few questions for my folklore project. She recalled a time from her past when she was struggling with maintaining civility but ultimately was able to overcome hardship by following the advice of her mother.

Interpretation:

I.N. interpreted this piece of advice to mean that despite the anger she felt towards her mother in-law, it was better to hide her passionate emotions and be kind because it would lead to a more pleasing relationship. She learned this folklore proverb from her mother and it stuck with her because she found it to be a relevant and intelligent piece of advice. I think this reflects on the Japanese cultural trend of not wanting to be overzealous or create tension. Generally, Japanese people are known for their polite nature and this proverb that tells its listener to hide their feelings essentially is a great example of that.

 

 

Childhood
Folk speech
Game
general
Humor
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Lead a Snot — Our Father Parody

Text

The following piece was collected from a fifty-two year old Caucasian man from Chicago, Illinois. The man is Irish Catholic. The man will hereafter be referred to as the “Informant”, and I the “Collector”.

Informant: “When we were in Mass, my siblings and I would say our own version of the Our Father.”

Collector: “How did it go?”

Informant: “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead A SNOT into temptation, but deliver US from evil.”

Context

            The Informant learned that funny version of the prayer in a Catholic grade school. At the weekly Friday Masses, the children would come up with all kinds of ways to keep themselves entertained. He remembers this version because he claims it “always made [him] laugh”. While he claims he doesn’t believe only snots should be delivered to evil, he does believe it speaks a little truth about people getting what they deserve.

Interpretation

My first reaction to this piece was to laugh out loud. I am very familiar with the Our Father prayer, as I am Catholic as well. Hearing it told in a child’s way, from a grown man, was very funny. But I also believe he was right in making the point that it goes to show a little that not everyone can be forgiving. The original line is “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”. In the satirical version, the prayer points out to actually deliver the snots – the brats, the people who deserved to be punished – to evil. I thought this showed the flip side of the same coin – people can be forgiving when it suits them, but when they can conversely want people to pay for their sins.

Childhood
Customs
Folk Beliefs
Folk medicine
general
Protection

Lemon Juice and Salt Water — Healing

Text

The following piece was collected from a thirty-year-old Mexican-American woman. . She will hereafter be referred to as the “Informant”, and I the “Collector”.

Informant: “Mi mama used to tell me us to squeeze lemon juice onto cuts my brothers and I would get.”

Collector: “To clean them?”

Informant: “Si. She said it hurt because it was cleaning. She would make us put salt water in mouth when throat hurt.”

Collector: “Did it work?”

Informant: “No se. We did it because she said.”

Context

            The Informant learned this unique way of healing small ailments from her Mexican mother. The Informant remembers because she would always try to hide some small scratch or sore throat from her mother so she wasn’t forced to pour lemon juice on the cut or gargle salt water. She never liked it, but she believed they worked, mainly because from a young age, her mother would tell her they would.

Interpretation

            When I first learned of this method, I was reminded of another method of helping small hurts. I was once told to rub mud on a bee sting to make it stop hurting. While I believe that the lemon juice and salt water have more legitimate healing properties, I think that the intent behind both practices is similar. I think the purpose of these processes is that within the application and resulting sting of lemon juice and salt water, the hurt is more in that moment of application. But following the short but intense sting, the pain itself has lessened. More than simply helping because healing properties they both may have, they are used as a distraction method, a way to lessen the pain in the long run.

Customs
Folk Beliefs
Folk medicine
Gestation, birth, and infancy
Life cycle
Magic
Narrative
Protection
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Haunted Babies

The informant was telling me of a belief that there are different kinds of babies. She explains how some babies are possessed by spirits when they are born below:

There is one kind of baby that only cries at night and it cries really loud. We have a specific phrase for them yia cu long which means those babies are haunted by some kind of ghosts, because like when a baby is first born they seem very vulnerable to ghosts, so they can easily see ghosts since they’re just born. If a baby is always crying at night it means yi cu long, meaning they are kind of haunted by ghosts, and so that’s why the baby is terrified and he always cry during the night. So in some of the culture what they will do is they will actually have like a person to do some ceremony in order to get the ghost out of their body or stop them from haunting the baby, so it’s like a witch but not really, and then after that the babies are not supposed to cry anymore during the night.

 

So like one of my mom’s friends, his grandson actually all of a sudden started crying at night everyday and he finds someone to produce the ceremony or whatever, and the baby actually stopped crying.

 

Context:

One day when we were talking she told me she had some interesting pieces of her culture that she could share with me, so a few weeks later we met a little café on campus at USC. We sat outdoors while she shared this tradition with me.

Background:

My informant was raised in China until middle school. When she was sixteen years old she moved to the US where she attended a boarding school in Maryland for high school. My informant transferred to USC for her sophomore year of college.  She was telling me about a superstition in Chinese culture that is practiced when babies are crying. A family friend of her mother had a grandson who was crying and ‘haunted’ by a spirit, and when this ritual was performed, the baby stopped crying at night, meaning the spirit was gone.

Analysis:

I found it intriguing that babies can be ‘possessed’ by spirits because they are weaker and new to the world. Even more so, I think it’s incredibly that my informants family friend’s grandson stopped crying after the ritual was performed, which gives the ritual more credibility.

Game
Humor

ZAIDS

Piece:

Interviewer: “Can you explain the concept of ZAIDS?”

Informant: “Oh god. Yeah… I guess I can. Basically in high school there was this fake disease called ZAIDS. Obviously it came from AIDS, but we put a Z in front of it to make it different. We had this one friend who we said got it originally, we made him patient zero. So when he finally kissed another girl we all made the joke that she had ZAIDS too. Soon enough the entire grade was tracking the spread of ZAIDS from him and that girl, and people were drawing out diagrams to figure out who exactly had the ‘disease’. At the very end of our senior year, at a point where most of the class had ZAIDS, we decided the only way to break the curse was for our friend who was patient zero to kiss that same girl again. I guess it was a funny way of ‘breaking’ the curse.”

Background:

The informant participated in this game in high school. Obviously he recognizes this ‘disease’ is fake but still thought it was a good excuse to give friends a hard time if they had ZAIDS. Before the ‘breaking of the curse’ described above, the informant was even a carrier of ZAIDS according to his classmates.

Context:

Because I went to the same high school as the informant, I was familiar with the story. This conversation was recorded while we were reminiscing about high school experiences after I realized the folkloric connections this game had.

Thoughts:

This game is clearly a more mature version of cooties, the game played by elementary school boys and girls. Instead of simple physical contact spreading the disease, however, in this version a kiss is required to transfer ZAIDS from one person to another. I think the significance of this game is simply an evolution of the significance of cooties. The game cooties allows kids to grapple with the ‘taboo’ topic of contact with the opposite gender. In this case, the ‘taboo’ topic is romantic involvement with the other gender, which is a natural progression of cooties. The game was most prevalent during early high school, like 9th grade, and faded from view as the class became older and the topics of romantic involvement became less taboo. The final moment of ‘breaking the curse’ during the senior year almost represents the class recognizing the absurdity of such a game or concept and shutting it down for good in a poetic way.

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