I hit my head on a piece of cornbread

Context: CR is a black student at USC, currently a sophomore. They and their family are originally from Houston. The informant told me about their experience after class while we were discussing the pieces of folklore we’d picked up during our lives. The saying they talked about would normally be performed by their father whenever they and their siblings hit their heads.

Text: “Okay so like growing up my… like me and my siblings would always like hit our heads like maybe on the top of our bunk beds or the roof of a car or something, and my dad would always say like “Oh no! Like I hit my head on a piece of cornbread!” And then we would just laugh instead of cry. And it was just a way that he would get us to be playful and laugh instead of focus on our pain. And he would always model it for us too. Yeah, just “I hit my head on a piece of cornbread.” There’s very much a rhythmic element to it and a rhyme, like if you say it the wrong way, it won’t be right.

“I hit my head on a piece of cornbread.”

Thoughts/Analysis: I’ve never heard of “I hit my head on a piece of cornbread,” but I’ve encountered similar sayings across my life. It makes me think of the Spanish saying sana sana, colita de rana which is also used to pacify kids after they get hurt. Soothing children after injury seems to unite a lot of childhood sayings. After all, the experience is universal. In this specific instance, though, part of the comforting nature of the saying seems to lie in its humor: the imagery of hitting one’s head on a piece of cornbread—something soft and spongy—versus whatever one hits their head on, seems to create dissonance and a disconnect from their current reality of pain.