Mexican Child Song- “Pescadito”

The informant is a 47-year old civil engineer working in California, originally from Michoacán, Mexico. He lived a modest life as a young adult, studying to be an engineer. He then moved to the United States with his wife to raise their family and make his career. He primarily speaks Spanish with English as a second language.  He shall be referred to as JB.

“Lindo pescadito, no quiere salir, a jugar con mi aro, vamos al jardin!”

“Yo vivo en el agua, no puedo salir, mi mama me ha dicho, ‘no salgas de aqui, porque si tu sales, te puedes morir.’”

“Lindo pescadito, no salgas de alli!”

“Cute fish, no want leave, to play with my hoop, go to garden!”

“I live in the water, no can go, my mom me has told, ‘no leave from here, because if leave, you can die.’”

“Cute fish, no leave from there!”

“Cute little fish, doesn’t want to get out, to come play with my hula hoop, let’s go to the garden!”

“I live in the water, I cannot go, my mother’s told me, ‘don’t leave here because you can die.’”

“Cute little fish, don’t get out of there!”

This is children’s song details a hypothetical conversation between a small, young fish and a small child. The child encourages the fish to leave the water to come play in the garden, but the fish explains that he’s meant for life in the water and been warned by his mother that anything otherwise could lead to his death. The child, upon realizing this, immediately retracts his offer and also encourages the fish to stay where he is for his safety.

JB explains that this song is sung to children around two years old. It is a simple game, making use of the common practice of adding the suffix “-ito” to a noun in order to make it small, endearing, and approachable for the child (it makes it childlike, like the child itself). In addition, JB explains that eventually children learn it themselves and are able to make it into a call-response game. While it is initially the parent that sings both parts, children will eventually be able to either sing the fish’s part or child’s part themselves, either with the parent or with other children. JB explains that this is used to help children understand the idea of call and response through the context of a silly song.

Knowing that this is sung to two-year old children, I interpreted it on another level. Around the age of two, small children become more mobile and adventurous than ever, but usually still unable to speak properly.  As they want to explore but do not fully understand communication, they could easily find themselves in unfortunate situations if they simply follow their every whim. Thus, the fish symbolizes security in the home. He explains (as his mother taught him) that he is safe in his home and should not leave for his own sake. By relating his mother’s advice himself, this encourages children to follow parental advice even without the presence of the parent, and thus helps them to take care of themselves. This is reinforced by the human child’s last line, where he agrees with the fish’s mother’s advice and also encourages the fish to stay in his safe home. This seems to be a statement against peer pressure, which is usually what steers a child away from parental guidance. Thus, children approach a peer pressure situation from both perspectives: From the one instilling pressure (and learning not to pressure others) and the one receiving pressure (and learning not to succumb to pressure but instead remain true to parental guidance). Thus, the song becomes an encouragement for growing children to stay in a safe environment.