Author Archives: Nicole Rodriguez

Los Pollitos

Song: It’s in Spanish

Los pollitos dicen
Pio, pio, pio
Cuando tienen hambre
Cuando tienen frio
La gallina busca
El maiz y el trigo
Les da la comida
Y les presta abrigo
Bajo sus dos alas
Hasta el otro dia
Duerman los pollitos


The little chicks say
Pio, pio, pio
When they’re hungry
And when they’re cold
The chicken looks for
Corn and wheat
She feeds them and
Covers them with warmth
Under her two wings
She cuddles them
The chicks sleep
Until the next day

My Informant was a 21 year old female who moved to the United States from Bogota, Colombia in 2004. She lives five houses down on my street.

Collector: Who used to sing this to you? And when?

Informant: My mom used to sing it to me when I was really young, but I still remember it. I’m not sure why, I think it’s just one of those things from your childhood that you never forget.

Collector: Was it to help you fall asleep?

Informant: No, not really. She’d sing it whenever my dad was almost home from work. I don’t really remember why, I think it was her way of comforting us because we missed him… which now that I think about it, is a little ridiculous, considering he was only gone for eight hours or so.

I distinctly remember this song from my childhood as well, but my mom did actually use it to get us to sleep. I believe that’s what most songs are for, to get children to do things without ordering them to do so. They hear the song about the chicks falling asleep and they want to follow suit and go to bed too, just like in the song. I found online, however, that there is more to the actual song than what either my informant’s mom or my mom ever sang to us.

For the full version, refer to :

Special Dumpling

Informant was a 20 year old male who was born in North Carolina and moved to Santa Monica at an early age. He attends the University of San Diego and is an old family friend that came to visit.


There’s this Chinese New Year tradition that a bunch of dumplings are made and a coin or a peanut is placed into one of them. Everyone knows that one of the dumplings has a coin or peanut, but nobody knows which one. Whoever gets the special dumpling supposedly has good luck for the entire new year.

Collector: Is it true?

Informant: The luck? I don’t know, I’ve never found the coin, but I think it’s probably bullshit.

Collector: So you’ve done this several times?

Informant: Yeah, at a friend’s house. Only my mom is Chinese, but she doesn’t really celebrate the Chinese New Year. My friend’s family does, though, and I think it’s kind of fun to just go over there and participate.

Collector: So it’s a real Chinese tradition, this dumpling thing? Not just a family tradition?

Informant: So I’ve been told. Since my friend is the only one I know who does this I’m not sure. I think my mom has said that it is, but I don’t really remember…I should probably listen to her more (laughs).

Collector: Does it have to be dumplings?

Informant: Yes. I think.

I believe that the informant is trying to connect with his Chinese heritage by participating in this New Year tradition. It’s that whole ethnic identity thing. Since he’s half Chinese, he probably feels like he should participate, although, it does seem like it’s something that he enjoys doing. I know of several traditions that are similar to this one (one involving having money in one’s pocket at the stroke of midnight, and another involving running around with a purse) which indicates to me that many people truly believe that there is something magical about the new year. It’s a liminal line of sorts that requires a ritual in order to pass successfully.

The Field

Informant was a 20 year old male who was born in North Carolina and moved to Santa Monica at an early age. He attends the University of San Diego and is an old family friend that came to visit.

Collector: Do you have any legends you may have heard about? Some story someone has told you?

Informant: Well, in elementary school we had the Katherine D. Vickes field, and one day the principal came up to me during recess and said it was named after a woman who had died there twenty years ago.

Collector: Really? Did he tell you how she died?

Informant: Yeah, but it’s actually really weird and I’m not sure he was telling the truth.

Collector: So it could be considered….a legend?

Informant: I guess. Well, he said that there was a little girl who used to go to the school, like 8 years old or something like that, and she had a mom who worked in a nuclear power plant. The lady got irradiated and died and she started to haunt the field at her daughter’s school. He said it was so she could keep an eye on her, but I don’t really know. This was a long time ago. (In a conspiratorial whisper)  Some people still think they can hear her voice, gently murmuring, on particularly still nights.

Collector: Jeez, what school did you go to, sounds crazy as hell.

Informant: Grant Elementary.

So, this story is pretty odd, but I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt since most legends don’t make a lot of sense either. I assume the principal was merely attempting to make friendly chatter with my informant by divulging this story he knew. The fact that it is so weird leads me to believe that this is a highly passed along narrative, since the more a story is passed along, the less sense it starts to make and the crazier the details become. Variation, indeed.








Pico, Pico, Beso

My Informant was a 21 year old female who moved to the United States from Bogota, Colombia in 2004. She lives five houses down on my street.

Story: Where I used to live in Bogota, there was this game that us kids used to play called “Pico, Pico, Beso” and it was, basically, this kissing game. It was like Tag, except girls would run away from the boys and if they were caught the boys got to give them a kiss on the cheek. If they were got caught again, then the boy got to kiss their other cheek. And if they were caught the third time, it was on the mouth. But only if the same boy caught them three times…not three different boys. Does that make sense? And, you know, usually girls played with the boys the liked and they’d “get caught” so it was a lot of fun. Just kid games.

Collector: How old were you when you played this game?

Informant: Around eleven or twelve.

Collector: What does “Pico, Pico, Beso” translate to? In English?

Informant: Like, what is it called? A peck on the cheek? Yeah? Yea. Like Peck, Peck, Kiss.

Collector: Do you know where this game originated from? Who taught it to you?

Informant: Some older kids at school were playing, I think, and my friend taught me how to play.

This is a great example of children learning about the world by imitating the world. They look to older people for guidance and, in this case, my informant and her friends learned from peers at school. There’s this whole concept that adults tend to shy away from mentioning anything of sexual nature around children, so it makes sense that they learned this game from other children instead of adults.

La Chancla

My Informant was a 21 year old female who moved to the United States from Bogota, Colombia in 2004. She lives five houses down on my street.

Collector: Okay, what’s the story of La Chancla?

Informant: Well, it was this sandal that my mom used to hide in the pantry in the kitchen, and whenever we misbehaved, she’d threaten to get La Chancla and spank us with it. We were terrified of it as kids and didn’t want it anywhere near us, because who wants to get spanked right? And she’d use it too – and it hurt. I remember that as we got older, though, we stopped being scared of it (laughs). There was actually this one time when my brother and I opened the forbidden pantry and stole La Chancla from the kitchen. When we did something bad, we teased my mom saying “Well what are you going to do? Get the Chancla?” and she realized it was gone. Her face was priceless. I’m not really sure when she stopped using though, it just sort of… faded out of our lives.

Collector: Do you think your mom was the only one who used La Chancla?

Informant: No way, it’s kind of a cultural thing. Hispanics know what’s up when it comes to La Chancla.

Collector: Only Hispanics?

Informant: I don’t think anyone else uses it, to be honest. They have…what do you call them? The rulers on the wrist? Or something like that. Time outs? I don’t know, people discipline their kids differently in different places.

Parents tend to resort to scare tactics in order to keep their children in check. In a way, they instill fear in them in order to control them, which sounds kind of sick in a way, but it does work. I’m sure it’s all in the best interest of the children anyway, since I do remember having to respect something similar to the Chancla when I was growing up and I turned out just fine. Apparently, this is a tradition because my informant’s parents grew up with La Chancla as well and their parents before them too. I guess it is a Hispanic thing, like a right of passage of sorts.

For more information on the Chancla: