Author Archives: Sophie Leaf

Children’s Rhyme

Children’s Rhyme

“Round and round the garden, like a teddy bear

One step, two step, tickle her under there”

I learned this rhyme when I was very young, around three years old from my first nanny who was British but lived in the United States with me and my family. Whenever I was getting restless or was bored, which was often considering how young I was, my nanny would sit me down and say this rhyme. This rhyme was performed in a certain way however. She would sit me in her lap and I would give her my right or left palm face up. She would then recite the words in a sort of sing-song voice while drawing an imaginary circle around my palm. Then when she said “one step, two step” she would slowly crawl her fingers up my arm and then tickle me under my arm. It would always result in me laughing hysterically and then asking her to do it over and over again.

She told me that this was strictly a children’s rhyme and was taught to her by her mother. While I have never heard of anyone else using this rhyme or found anyone that has heard it, I believe that this was probably a rhyme more popular in England, where my nanny was originally from, and was used in order to entertain children in a very easy, childish way.  I am not sure where else this rhyme would be used other than around children although I do think it necessary for their to be an adult to recite the poem in order to have the same affect it does.

I believe this children’s rhyme, while no real significant meaning may come out of it, is important nonetheless because it was apart of my childhood and I will always remember being comforted by hearing that rhyme. To me, it was a special rhyme just shared between me and my nanny and even though I had one other nanny try this rhyme with me, it did not hold its same meaning because the way my previous nanny had done it was the original way I had learned it and thus had special meaning for me.

Children’s Rhyme

Children’s Rhyme

Miss Annie had a steamboat

The steamboat had a bell

Miss Annie went to Heaven

The steamboat went to



Give me number nine.

If you disconnect me

I’ll kick your fat


The ‘frigerator

There was a piece of glass.

Mary sat upon it

And broke her big fat


Me no more questions

I’ll tell you no more lies.

The boys are in the bathroom

Zipping up their

Flies are in the meadow

The bees are in the park

Miss Annie and her boyfriend are kissing in the D A R K, D A R K, dark dark dark!

Mandy learned this rhyme when she was about ten years old from her other class mates in her school. It was a common rhyme she would say while playing a hand game where they would clap their hands together with another partner. She said they were especially fond of saying it when her school would have fire drills or earthquake drills and they would have an hour to waste. Generally, they would find a place on the grass during the drill grab their best friend and just start clapping their hands together and reciting this rhyme.

She described that this rhyme was used mainly to pretend as if they were saying bad words but in a very sneaky way so they couldn’t get in trouble for saying it. They would say it around adults but would then whisper it as if what they were saying was taboo since the words they were saying were meant to sound like curse words such as “ask” sounding similar to “ass” or saying “hell-o” but knowing it was meant to be “hell”. This rhyme continued to be used in her school even when she got older although it lost a lot of its appeal when they got older because they knew real curse words and used them regularly. Today I have heard the rhyme still used occasionally by friends but usually it is being used in a joking manner in order to reminisce about childhood times.

Something interesting about this rhyme is that it was used in my school a lot too. I believe we both knew this rhyme because we both attended school in the valley. While we did attend separate schools, our versions are exactly the same and having asked a few other people if they had ever heard this rhyme and had attended school in the same area, they always replied yes. While the name of the girl in the rhyme did change from Annie to Suzie depending on the person, it was always used in the same context. It was a rhyme we said in order to feel like we were older because we were using words that we might not necessarily ought to be saying.

Contemporary Legend

Urban Legend- The Claw

A girl and her boyfriend are up on a hill at the edge of town. They turned on the radio and found some music. The announcer read a bulletin. He said that a man with a hook in place of a hand had escaped from the state prison. The girl wanted to go home because the prison was not far from where they were. So the boy started the engine. But before they left they heard a scratching noise. They drove off. When the girl got home the boy walked around the car to open her door. Handing off the door handle was a hook.

Mandy was told this story when she was fifteen by her mother and has also heard the story since from some of her childhood friends. When she began to go out more, her mother lectured her a lot about being careful and Mandy always replied she would and then would leave. One night, Mandy ended up coming home later than she had told her mom and her mom discovered she had been out with a boy at a party in the Mullholland hills. The next day Mandy remembered her mother telling her this story.

Mandy believes the story was meant to scare her and deter her from wanting to be alone with a boy or be alone at any time at night. While at the time she heard this, she didn’t understand the moral of the story and believed her mom was overreacting, she now knows it was meant to teach her a lesson about safety. Mandy also pointed out that this story was told to her older sister as well when she was around Mandy’s age and apparently her mom was told the same story by her mother.

I believe many mothers or parents would use this story in general in order to deter their child from being alone at night with someone they might not know so well. I believe that this story would probably be more relevant and useful if told to a female just because there tends to be more of a concern when a girl is on her own with a guy rather than when a guy is alone with a girl. It is likely that this urban legend has been passed on also by kids who have heard the story, however, when they tell their friends about it, it’s more to scare them then to deter them from something.

Contemporary Legend

Urban Legend

A young girl is left home alone with only her dog to protect her. When night approaches, she locks all the doors and tries to lock all the windows, but one in the basement won’t close.

She decides to leave it open, but locks the basement door and goes to bed. Her dog takes its customary place under her bed.

In the deep of night she awakens to a dripping sound coming from the bathroom. The girl is too scared to go check so she reaches her hand under the bed. She feels a reassuring lick from her dog and falls back to sleep. She reawakens to the dripping sound, reaches her hand down to the dog where she feels the reassuring lick and falls back to sleep. Once more, she awakens to the dripping sound. She reaches her hand down and feels the lick of her dog.

Now curious about the dripping sound, she gets up and slowly walks towards the bathroom, the dripping sound getting louder as she approaches. She reaches the bathroom and turns on the light. A horrific sight greets her; hanging from the shower nozzle is her dog with its throat slit open and its blood dripping into the bathtub.

Something on the bathroom mirror catches her eye; she turns around. Written on the bathroom mirror in her dog’s blood are the words “HUMANS CAN LICK TOO”.

Claire was told this story by her older sister when she was around eleven years old. They were away at camp together over the summer and each person in their cabin had to tell a scary story and this is the story her sister told. Having heard this story, Claire was frightened for months to be left alone in her house. She acknowledges know that there may have been an ulterior motive behind her sister telling this story. She believes now that the story was told to her in order to deter her from wanting to be left alone in the house. Claire admits that her parents had always been wary of leaving her alone, especially since Claire was so young, however, they slowly were beginning to feel like maybe they should give her some freedom. However, after Claire heard this story, she no longer wanted to be left alone.

Claire believes that this story also has a second meaning. She takes it as an almost “coming of age” story. She says that these scary stories are always almost told by people older in age and they only start at a certain age, which Claire believes is when kids start to seem like they are maturing and can now handle more intense stories. While she has heard many urban legends, she says this one stuck with her the most because it was the first scary tale she had ever heard.

After having talked with Claire, I disagree that her mother was trying to deter her daughter from wanting to be alone in the house. I do believe it is possible it was meant to just be a mild wake up call to Claire that there are dangers out there in the world, and no matter what you do to make yourself feel more comfortable, there is always danger surrounding us and so it is necessary to be alert. I do agree thought that these urban legends could be considered a rite of passage as if you are one of the kids who do not become afraid after hearing this story; you are definitely looked upon as a strong person.

Children’s Rhyme

Children’s Rhyme

Down by the banks of the Hanky Panky

Where the bullfrogs jump from bank to banky

Where the eeps, ops, sodapops

Hit Mr. Lilypad and went kerplops

Kyrsti learned this rhyme when she was in middle school from her friends.  She often played it with her friends to pass time during recess or sometimes in class. She and at least five of her friends would sit in a circle, overlapping hands, and sing this chant while slapping each other’s hands going around in a big circle. When you got to the end of the song, whoever’s hand got hit on “plops” was out and had to leave the circle and watch everyone else play. She described, however, how many people would try to cheat and sneak in an extra hand hit in order to not be the one who lost. A number of ways to cheat was to speed up in the middle of the song in order to not have it land no you in the end if you could time it or at the end try to sneak in another hand slap on someone else in order to not be the one out. But she said the most popular way to not lose was if you were the one who the final word landed on, if you could grab your hand away before it got it the person who missed your hand would be out instead.

She said that this game was not only used at her school but that she also played it when she was at camp with her friends or at a party. However, she did point out that this was not a game that they played at home, probably because they had other activities available to them at her house. Kyrsti believed that this game was meant to be a bonding experience because you either had to trust the person next to you wouldn’t try to get you out and you just got to play with your friends and bond. But she also notes how these games were usually only participated in by girls and boys rarely, if ever took part. She believes this is most likely due to the fact that many of the rhymes were about girly activities.

I found this item particularly interesting because this was also a game I played when I was a kid at school and we played it in the same sort of situations. I am not sure whether or not this is a game that spans all throughout Los Angeles, but I do know a lot of people who are from Los Angeles that know this rhyme or at least some version very similar to it. Also, after having interviewed Kyrsti and looking at a lot of my other collections, I realized the children clapping games are some of the most popular if not prevalent versions of child folklore. Many people perform them and they are rapidly passed on because children are constantly teaching the rhyme to someone new. Thus children clapping games are a great example of folklore in modern society.

Annotation: This children’s rhyme can be found in The Complete Book of Rhymes, Songs, Poems, Fingerplays: Over 700 Selections which includes rhymes, riddles, and children nursery rhymes from all over.

Silberg, Jackie, and Pam Schiller. The Complete Book of Rhymes, Songs, Poems,

Fingerplays: Over 700 Selections. Gryphon House, 2002. 2 May 2008