Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Mo

Informant: Eeny meeny miny mo, catch a tiger by the toe, if he hollers let him go, my mom picked the very best one and you are it.

The informant first heard the counting out song when she was in elementary school on the playground. This song was used to determine who would be ‘it’ in games. The person deciding would point to each person sequentially changing the selected person at each new word until the song ended and a person was chosen to be ‘it.’

The song is a standard among counting out rhymes but the interesting aspect of the informant’s version is that it’s the basic version. In many cases, people remember add-ons or additional lines that make the song unique.

Collector: Did you ever hear anyone tell variations of this?

Informant: Yes, but we only used them when we didn’t want to choose the person we were about to land on so we added on the next part to choose the next person.

When variation is allowed, kids could add whatever they wanted to the end and more syllables meant they could use them to their advantage and choose whom they wanted to be ‘it.’

This example of counting out songs shows an inherent need for order. The anarchy of allowing someone to choose whomever they wanted to be ‘it’ with no system would allow for favoritism. By following the rules of the counting out songs that children themselves placed, they regulated themselves into an almost democratic like state.