Counting Out Rhyme

Ink-a-bink a bottle of ink the cork fell out and you stink.

The informant, Tyler, says the he and his friends use this rhyme to decide who is it for games like hide and go seek and tag. He says everyone playing gets together in a circle and one person says the rhyme in a sing-songy manner. For each syllable of the rhyme, the person saying it points to a member of the group. Whoever the person is pointing to when the rhyme stops steps out of the circle and will not be it. The rhyme is repeated until there is only one person left in the circle; that person is it. Tyler says he learned the rhyme from one of his friend’s older sisters when he was younger. He and his peers only use the rhyme at the beginning of a game to decide who will be it. He thinks it is a fair way to decide who is it.

Children often use counting rhymes to determine who will be it for a game. Although it is unclear what the rhyme itself is specifically referring to, its formula is not unheard of. Obviously the rhyme describes the unfortunate event of ink being spilled and then blames it on one child. Interestingly enough the child that “stinks” is immune from being it. It seems like a more efficient system would be to make the child that “stinks” it. However I think part of the un for the children is repeated performance of the rhyme. This lends a bit of tension to the situation, although the children have fun with the process of picking an it.