“Step on a Crack…”

Background information: My brother is currently a sophomore in high school. He recalled some sayings and games he remembers playing when he was younger.

Brother: I think this is a, like, just a folklore saying? Or kinda a game. But we used to say “Step on a crack, break your back, step on a line, break your spine.” Something like that. So you can’t step on any cracks in the sidewalk or step on any of the lines on the sidewalk or on the roads either. Otherwise something bad might happen to you.

Me: How did you hear about this? Do you believe it yourself?

Brother: It’s just a kid thing that I remember hearing with my friends when we would walk around after school or during recess. It’s a saying and a kinda superstitious thing but then it can also become a game if you actually try not to step on anything. I think I probably took it seriously at one point, but not anymore.

This saying was interesting to me because I remember it differently in my own childhood, and many of my friend do too. I remember it as “Step on a crack, break your mama’s back.” However, my brother and I do have a somewhat large age gap between us, and maybe in that time the saying slowly changed, as many playground games do. I think this is something that a lot of children take seriously when they’re young, because of the threat of something bad occurring, and not only something bad, but something very specific. For another version of this saying, see https://journeys.dartmouth.edu/folklorearchive/spring-2020/southern-superstitions/step-on-a-crack-break-your-mommas-back/.