“¿Qué cosa es redonda como una pelota, pero pesa más que un elefante?” “El Planeta Tierra!” (“What is round like a ball, but weights more than an elephant?” “Planet Earth!”)
MD is my roommate’s friend here at USC. She is originally from Miami Beach, Florida and has lived there her whole life. She was raised by Argentinian parents who immigrated to Florida when they were in their teenage years. She describes her parents as both free spirited and herself in the same fashion.
MD: My dad would always tell me riddles growing up while he drove me to school in the morning. Sometimes if we were taking my friends to school with us after a sleepover he would tell them to both of us. I remember trying to figure them out and getting upset if my friend got it first.
DO (Interviewer): Can you remember one that was hard for you to get?
MD: Yeah. He would turn around in his seat at the red light and make hand motions with it. So like he would start off asking “Qué cosa es redonda como una pelota?” Which translates to “What is round like a ball?” And he would make a circle with his hands. And then he’d follow it up with “pero pesa más que un elefante?” And would make this funny elephant sound. Then we would guess. After a few times he finally would tell us. The answer to this one is “El planeta Tierra” which means planet Earth. I remember I was so upset after and thinking how stupid it was. But now I laugh at it.
DO: What did these riddles mean to you growing up?
MD: Well they were pretty fun to do every morning. Looking back, I don’t know how my dad didn’t run out of ones to say. Riddles were part of our little routine that we had going on. I also loved when I got them right, it made me feel like the smartest kid ever. But it was also just a way for me to chill with my dad and bond with him so I guess there’s a little bit of nostalgia in them now.
This riddle was part of children’s lore for this family. It was a way for her dad to bond with the kids and continues to be an important part of their childhood memories. This was one of the earliest and most impactful introductions to folklore for her. After this specific riddle, I was told a few more that stood out from this time. The riddles being simple and silly allow the kids to have enough knowledge about the topic to understand it but were still challenging enough to have them think hard about the answers. It also served as a confidence booster for the children if they solved the riddle and allowed them to think about things differently since the answer is not obvious.