Tag Archives: clapping

Children’s Clapping Game: Lemonade, Crunchy Ice

Main Piece: 

“Lemonade 

Crunchy ice 

beat it once beat it twice 

turn around touch the ground 

kick your boyfriend out of town 

Freeze 

American cheese 

I think I’m gonna sneeze 

achoo woohoo”

Background:

The informant used to perform this song as part of clapping game in pre-school and elementary school in Arizona. She described it as an activity kids would do while lining up, such as when they were leaving the playground. She interpreted it as a distraction and time-passer, as well as something you got the joy of passing on/teaching. This was a regular activity for her and her classmates that those in her circle all knew. This was one of a few clapping games, rather than the only one they played.

Thoughts:

This recitation seems similar to other childhood clapping games such as “patty-cake”, but with different lyrics and rhythm. This game also seems more physically active and disruptive to the line than other similar games I’ve seen, with my informant demonstrating exaggerated hand movements not restricted to clapping. Presumably, this would be counter-productive to an organized line. This seems to be an example of children’s folklore responding in a disorderly way to the order imposed by adults, which is a concept explored by Jay Mechling. Children have little power, he says, and so one of the ways they squeeze some power into their grasp is through disorder. This piece of folklore seems to manifest that principle with physical disruption and nonsensical lyrics.

Children’s Clapping Game: Candy on a Stick

Main Piece: 

“Candy on a stick that makes me sick, 

It makes my tummy go two-forty-six, 

Not because you’re dirty, not because you’re clean, 

Not because you kissed a boy behind a magazine. 

Hey boys do you wanna fight 

I see a guy with his pants on tight 

He can wibble he can wobble he can even do the splits, 

But I bet ya ten bucks that he can’t do this. 

Close your eyes and count to ten, and if you mess up start over again”

Background:

The informant used to perform this song as part of clapping game in pre-school and elementary school in Arizona. She described it as an activity kids would do while lining up, such as when they were leaving the playground. She interpreted it as a distraction and time-passer, as well as something you got the joy of passing on/teaching. This was a regular activity for her and her classmates that those in her circle all knew. This was one of a few clapping games, rather than the only one they played.

Thoughts:

This recitation seems similar to other childhood clapping games such as “patty-cake”, but with different lyrics and rhythm. This clapping game also seems more based in gender than the clapping games I’m familiar with, which, though normally performed by young girls, did not stake boys so firmly as another entity. This may be an example of defiant/experimental lyrics in schoolchildren with its fighting, kissing, and tight pants. Jay Mechling explains that children tend to experiment with “inappropriate” lyrics as a way to rebel against the dominant adult figures and explore adult themes that they’re marginally aware of safely. This activity seems to be a definitively gendered form of adolescent expression. The purpose would be to explore kissing, fighting, and tight pants in a low-stakes context. For another version of this game, see Tucker, Elizabeth. “Children’s Folklore: A Handbook.” United States: ABC-CLIO, 2008. 18.

Miss Mary Mack

Background:

My mother, the informant for this piece, tells me that it’s a handclapping game she learned on the playground while growing up in Cloverdale, California during the 1970s. Additionally, she notes that it was one of her favorite games which is why she remembers it so well.

Context:

This handclapping game is played by singing the song below, accompanied by a rhythmic pattern of three claps–one during each of the three words in each line. My informant also stated that it can be played at twice the speed, or started slow and gradually increased; this version of the game is usually played as a competition, and the first person to make a mistake loses.

Main Piece:

“Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack

All dressed in black, black, black

With silver buttons, buttons, buttons

All down her back, back, back

She asked her mother, mother, mother

For fif-ty cents, cents, cents

To see the elephant, elephant, elephant

Jump the fence, fence, fence

He jumped so high, high, high

He touched the sky, sky, sky

And didn’t come back, back, back

‘Til the Fourth of July, -ly, -ly

Analysis:

This playground game could be as innocent as it sounds, or, like a great deal of other children’s folklore, could have some kind of metaphorical meaning. If this is the case, it sounds like miss Mary Mack is a young girl who recently lost her father, indicated by her mother’s dressing in all black. Following the same train of thought, the fifty cents she asks for could be the symbolic payment for the ferryman her father needs to pass through the underworld, as was popularized by the Greek myth of Charon. Additionally, the elephant touching the sky and not coming back ’til the Fourth of July could be symbolic of the girl’s father reaching heaven, subsequently being celebrated on the Fourth of July. For this last part to be the case, however, the song would have to have its roots in the Revolutionary War era, which could be possible.

Mailman

Main piece:

The mail man one, “Mailman mailman do your duty here comes a lady with an african booty she can do the pom pom she can do the twist most of all she can kiss kiss with her red hot lips k i s s i n g”

Background information (Why does the informant know or like this piece? Where or who did they learn it from? What does it mean to them?):

It was one of the rhymes the kids knew. It wasn’t a favorite but it sticks because it’s the most ridiculous one out of them all. Learned it in 1st grade from some female peer in her class. Informant thinks this one is ridiculous and doesn’t know why little kids sing it because it’s a little inappropriate.

Context (When or where would this be performed? Under what circumstance?):

It’s a hand clapping game for little kids to sing together.

Personal Analysis:

The “african booty part” is kind of racist. Even the informant said that it’s a weird song to think about. As a kid, she just went along with what the others were doing. I think it has a lot of strange connotations that kids don’t know about. I don’t think this has anything to do with Africa, but I wonder why American kids sing it. Why is it the mail man’s duty to kiss the lady? It’s actually really uncomfortable to think about. “do the pom pom” isn’t even proper grammar. I wonder who was the first person to start this song.

Clapping game rhyme/song

Context: The informant is a Pakistani-American 11-year-old girl and a 6th grader at a public school in Torrance, CA.  The following clapping rhyme is a two-person game she learned in first grade.

Content:

“I went to a Chinese restaurant

To buy a loaf of bread, bread, bread

She asked me what my name was

And this is what i said, said, said

My name is

L-I-L-I, Pickle-eye pickle-eye

pom-pom beauty, sleeping beauty

Then she told me to freeze freeze freeze

And whoever moves, loses.”

The word “freeze” may be said either once or three times, and at that moment the players must both freeze. The informant also showed me the two kinds of clapping sequence that are used for the two parts of the game, one for the first four lines, and the other for lines 6-8.

Analysis: At first glance, the rhyme seems like complete nonsense; but upon further examination, the rhyme could conceal casual racism. “Li” could be an East Asian name. Rhyming it with “pickle-eye” (which itself could be referring to culturally unfamiliar food which is automatically dismissed as unnatural or revolting–for instance recall the urban legend where neighborhood cats/dogs were disappearing after immigrants from [insert Asian country here] moved in), which is essentially a nonsense word, could be meant to show disrespect towards all people with similarly “Asian” names. Then referring to oneself as a “pom-pom beauty” (perhaps referring to a cheerleader’s pom-poms) and “sleeping beauty” (the classic western fairy tale) as a contrast to the “Li” lady is like proclaiming, I am an all-American girl, like a cheerleader or Sleeping Beauty, and you are not.