Playground Rhyme – United States of America

Miss Suzie had a steamboat

The steamboat had a bell

The steamboat went to heaven

Miss Suzie went to

Hello operator

Please give me number nine

And if you disconnect me

I’ll blow off your

Behind the ‘fridgerator

There was a piece of glass

Miss Suzie fell upon it

And broke her little

Ask me no more questions

Please tell me no more lies

The boys are in the bathroom

Zipping up their

Flies are in the meadow

The bees are in the park

Miss Suzie and her boyfriend

Are kissing in the D-A-R-K D-A-R-K DARK DARK DARK!

The dark is like a movie

A movie’s like a show

A show is like a TV screen

And that is all I know

I know my ma

I know I know my pa

I know I know my sister with the 80-acre bra!

My mom is like Godzilla

My dad is like King Kong

My sister is the stupid one who made up this whole song!

I learned this rhyme during elementary school, sometime during first or second grade (1994 or 1995). It was a popular recess chant, usually done in pairs (sometimes with variation for groups of three or four). As the chant took place, the participants would slap their partner’s hands, and alternately clap their own. This hand slapping pattern remains the same throughout the entire rhyme, except at the “DARK DARK DARK!” portion, when the partners slap each others’ hands three times in a row, punctuating each syllable.

I don’t think any boys participated in this activity. Thus, it was passed down solely from girl to girl, which fits the last line of the chant—implying that an anonymous “sister” made up the rhyme and passed it along to her sister or friends. When my sister learned this song (neither of us can recall if she learned the whole thing from me, or if she learned some of it from others on the playground), she took great enjoyment in saying that I was the “stupid one” as she completed the rhyme.

About a year and a half after learning this song, the recess attendants expressed their disapproval of this ditty, and if anyone was caught doing it, she would get in trouble. As a second or third grader, I thought this was very unfair—although “bad words” were hinted at, they weren’t explicitly said. Taboo words like “Hell” and “ass” were quickly saved by adding an extra syllable or sound to create “hello” and “ask,” respectively. This “Miss Suzie” chant is a good display of children trying to push the limits of authority: how far can you go without actually getting in trouble?

The idea of taboo words seems to leave the song after the proclamation “DARK DARK DARK!” Talking to some of my friends nowadays, the point after this line is where the most variety seems to appear. This implies that the rhyme was added to over time, though the additions maintained the rhyme scheme and rhythm present from the beginning of the song. In fact, I vaguely remember that this particular version of the rhyme is not the one I originally learned in second grade. I think the “godzilla,” “king kong,” and “stupid one” lines were added after I had initially learned the chant, sometime during third grade, probably.

After third grade, students typically stopped participating in chants like these at recess in favor of other games. Rather than being due to developmental changes or varying interests, this might have been due to the recess attendants who wanted to stop us from repeating this chant with its “bad words.”