Tag Archives: Crying

La Llorona

Category: Legend/Tale (Depends on if the person believes in spirits, but more of a Legend)


Summary: If a child cries too much they would be taken by la Llorona. La Llorona is a crying woman who does something bad to bad children. “[I]t’s always a woman and … she’s [always] weeping and generally 9 times out of 10, it was always involving children.”

*for more details read script below


L is my mom who was born in Mexicali, Mexico and then moved to the US with her family when she was young. She heard about la Llorona from her parents and interprets the story of la Llorona having to do with females crying and children misbehaving.


This oikotype of la Llorona doesn’t have to do with water like Carbonell says is included in many Llorona stories. Instead this Llorona focuses on females crying and children misbehaving, which are themes in other oikotypes as well. In a sense, this version seems similar to the Boogeyman but with a crying aspect. It does go with what Carbonell says is the more common role of la Llorona since she plays a role as the bad guy.

L implies that la Llorona kidnaps children with the part about the Olympics. This is more common with other oikotypes of la Llorona and the name itself shows hispanic identity since it’s in Spanish. On the other hand, there is the more unique interpretation L takes of la Llorona with her siblings when one of them cries a lot. Instead of calling someone a cry-baby, her siblings use la Llorona instead, which may also be a coincidence since “a female who cries” is literally the same name for la Llorona, the figure in legends. Since L’s family uses it to keep children from crying after a certain time it means that L’s family values one’s toughness and ability to adapt quickly rather than sympathise.

Interesting Side Note:

  • L also implies that la Llorona can be an aspect of God’s punishment on bad children in the latter part of the conversation.
  • As a Mexican American, I know parts of Mexican and Hispanic culture from my mom but definitely not all. I didn’t even know about la Llorona until I learned it off the internet and then asked my mom about her. Having this conversation let me know why my mom didn’t bring up these stories: they’re replaced by other, “American” folklore like “Stranger Danger!”, the Boogeyman, etc. Said replacement is an interesting side note.


Me: Ok, so what was this about la Llorona, like what-what’s the kind of story and then I guess how did you have it in your childhood and life?

L: So la Llorona, I grew up with it. My parents introduced it to us and I am the youngest of four and generally when the topic of la Llorona came up, it was not a good thing. Ok? You try avoiding having la Llorona brought up and the way it was brought up in my childhood was if… and I am the youngest of four siblings and if you got hurt, there was what parents would deemed an appropriate amount of time for you to sit there and ball your head out and cry and, you know, appropriately, you know, let people know that you’re hurt and you’re crying. But then if you went on beyond that reasonable amount of time and you were just doing a drama and you were just playing it up and you reached the excess point, they would politely say, ‘look enough is enough and if you don’t stop you’re crying at this point you’re going to be visited by la Llorona.

Me: And by they you mean your parents?

L: Your-your- no. My parents would say you’re going to be visited by la Llorona. And la Llorona is always a woman, as implied you know, from the verb, you know, weeping and it’s a woman plural, I mean it’s feminine because it’s la LloronA.

Me: Ends with an A.

L: So it’s always a woman and it’s always- she’s weeping and generally 9 times out of 10 it was always involving children. Ok? So that’s how I heard of la Llorona. That’s how it was used, but even amongst our siblings, even among siblings, it was not a good thing to be nicknamed or to be called out being la Llorona. And you would do this to push your siblings’ buttons, to get them irate. And that was the point where yeah- let’s say you pushed them, or you shoved them, or you skinned yourself playing soccer or-or you got a big bruise and you were just endlessly crying for no, you know, I mean ya it hurt, but then you’d go on and on and on. Well then, we would just nickname them like, you know, la Llorona. ‘If you don’t shut up about this, you know, you’re just la Llorona.’ It was a nickname amongst our siblings. More appropriately among us females because it’s a woman who’s weeping.

Me: So you and Tia [P].

L: Yes, me and Tia [P], and so my parents would use it, not a good thing. I would use it among siblings as a nickname, you know, kind of picking on you… to shut up… stop with the crying when it was excess. You would use it amongst siblings and me as an adult with you, my kids I really never had the occasion to use it. I contemplated it at times… but…

Me: Instead, dad would just be like, ‘No phone privileges!’

L: *laughs* Ya, I mean it-it’s- here in the United States you have other methods of controlling kind of, you know, bad behavior or excess, you know, crying or excess, you know, brooding. The only time I really contemplated it was as- as- a sign when we would go to the Olympics and we were among hordes of people and we really, I mean it would have just been a nightmare if any of you had actually gotten lost at one of the Olympic events with the thousands of people there. To hold tie to always, you know, be by a parent but we never really had to. There were other methods to do it. But that was the one time I kept saying, you know, maybe this is the time to bring out la Llorona just to instill the fear of God in them that they really, really have to hold on to a parent or else they’re going to get lost in the thousands of people…

Me: So like stranger danger.

L: Yeah, but I didn’t have to because we had stranger danger and I even saw that parents would put those little long leashes, I call them leashes and that’s probably not the appropriate name…

Me: *snorts*

L: But the little backpacks, right? With these long cords to attach to the parent or attach to the arm of the kid so the child doesn’t get lost. But we never even had to do that. So again, la Llorona, it was useful when I grew up by my parents, and it was not a good thing, and we used it growing up amongst ourselves as nicknames just to… uh…

Me: Mess with each other?

L: Yeah, push each others’ buttons. And again, as an adult I didn’t really have to use it because I had other methods other ways to try and curb that bad behavior or quiet that behavior we wanted.

Me: Gee thanks.

L: *laughs* Alright any other questions on la Llorona?

Me: Um…. Nope… not really. Gracias.

L: Ok, de nada.

Heal, Heal, little tail of the frog – Spanish Saying

Piece: “Something I heard a lot as a kid was Sana sana colita de rana, si no se sana hoy se sanara manana. Heard it from my grandma as a kid, she said it to me all the time, she’s a baller”

Background information: The informant is a very comedic student with an Argentinian background. Although he resides in the US, he strongly identifies with his Argentinian roots.

Context: This is a hispanic saying used whenever you got hurt as a kid. You’d run to your mom/dad crying about a new injury and they would say this while rubbing the area of pain. The informant heard this a lot from his grandma and it stuck with him because it’s a saying that’s used a lot in Latin countries. The saying translates to “Heal, heal, little tail of the frog. If you don’t heal today, you’ll heal tomorrow.”

Personal analysis: I can personally vouch for the informant. I also heard this a lot as a kid. Every time I got injured I would run to my mom and she would say this saying to make the pain go away. Although there’s no healing happening, it was used as placebo to force you to think that if it didn’t heal today, it would heal tomorrow. Almost like a reassurance that everything would be okay. The saying served no real purpose except that it would make you stop crying as soon you heard it. The saying includes the line “tail of the frog” but I never got around to asking why it was mentioned.  I just accepted it and moved on.


Don’t Pout, There’s a Bird Coming!

Folk Piece

“Don’t pout or a bird will land on that lip!”



“It’s kind of ridiculous. Like, of course a bird isn’t going to land on my lip. But, like, kids are also crazy and would probably believe everything. When I started hearing this phrase so much it bothered me, but now as I’m older, I can see why my grandma might’ve said it. She is such a sweet old lady. Like all the time, all the time, she would tell me all of these little sayings and stuff. But yeah, no, I’m pretty sure half of them were to just behave better and keep still.”


Originally this was taught to me by my grandmother to stop me from pouting as a kid. Now I find myself teaching this to the kids I babysit.”


This piece was definitely one of the more odd ones that I came across. Why is a bird landing on the lip? Is that a bad thing? What kind of bird could even land on a lip? I mean, in a sense, I get it. You don’t want some bird smacking you in the face. It just wasn’t as clear to me as many of the other proverbs and warnings and sayings that I had heard over the years.

So, I decided to do some research. It turns out, the more popular version of this phrase is “Don’t stick your lip out or a bird might poop on it!” This was much more clear to me; bird poop is something that’s much more familiar than a bird actually landing on me. It also could go hand in hand with a kid acting like they are ‘full of shit’ when they are pouting.

The participant’s grandmother was described to me as a very sweet, kind, old lady. The participant also comes from a somewhat religious family. This all said, it could be that the grandmother thought the original saying was too crude for her grandchildren, so she changed it a little bit. Clearly, though, if the informant can remember it after all of these years, it must have been pretty effective.

The variation of this piece of folklore is quite different, but it doesn’t change the true meaning of the proverbial phrase, much like most variations of proverbs. Still, you can tie back its origins to the more popular version – or perhaps the more popular version arose from this one. In any case, like many proverbs were designed to do, it will make kids behave.

“After a lot of laughing always comes some crying.”

A Persian saying described verbatim by informant:

“I can’t remember the Persian translation of it but in English its becomes like ‘After a lot of laughing always comes crying.’ They would say that to me when I was a kid. Say I was like laughing a lot at a joke cuz in the culture you’re supposed to be like very modest conservative, like kids are supposed to be quiet I had a really loud personality so if a kid was every misbehaving and being really hyper and laughing they’re like ‘Okay your laughing your laughing your laughing’ but soon like you’re gonna get smacked in the face and you’ll start crying cuz you’re being obnoxious. And that’s a thing they always say to little kids. My parents definitely said that to me, all the time. I would definitely say it to my cousins, I would say it to my cousins, but I would joke I wouldn’t actually like smack them but its like after a lot of laughing be prepared to experience the opposite of that.”

I find it interesting that my informant has turned this oppressive proverb into a joke she can share between her cousins, who are also first generation Iranian-American. The Persian culture from her description basically suppresses joy in the name of obedience and conservatism, which in her personal experience has been one of the biggest points of contention with her Iranian parents. The fact that this is a commonly said to children points to subjugation and authority which is core to the clan and family dominated culture. By turning the proverb on its head and saying it to her grown cousins in a joking manner she can softly criticize the strictness she struggles with.