Tag Archives: girls

Clapping game rhyme/song

Context: The informant is an 11 year old girl of Pakistani descent. She is a 6th grader at a public school in Torrance, CA.  Her social groups include friends of many different religious and ethnic backgrounds. The following clapping rhyme is a two-person game she learned in first grade.

Content:

Lemonade,

iced tea

Coca-cola,

Pepsi

Lemonade, iced tea, Coca-cola, Pepsi,

turn around, touch the ground, kick your boyfriend out of town, freeze

Another version from the same informant begins with the same line:

Lemonade,

crunchy ice

Beat it once,

beat it twice,

Lemonade, crunchy ice, beat it once, beat it twice,

turn around, touch the ground, kick your boyfriend out of town, freeze

In the last line of both versions, the players may perform the actions sung: they turn in a circle, drop to a crouch to touch the ground, and may even stand up and make a kicking motion. At the word “freeze,” both players must stop moving, and the first to move loses.

Analysis: I learned a version of this game, similar to the second version recorded, from cousins who went to the same school district as the informant. Instead of the words “beat it,” however, the words “pour it” were used, and the last line was completely omitted. The rhyme ended with the players crying “Statue!” and the first person to move, lost. Somehow, however, a player was allowed to tickle the other person to get them to move, even though tickling would seemingly count as moving. 

The incorporation of Coca-cola and Pepsi, both globally-recognizable drink names, into the rhyme is evidence of how popular the drink is worldwide and how it has been incorporated into “American” or “Southern California” culture, that children are mentioning it in their songs along with the ever-popular summer drink of lemonade.

The last line “Turn around, touch the ground” seems to be echoing some long-dead magic ritual, especially when followed by a mention of the singer’s boyfriend (keeping in mind that 11 years old, the majority of children likely have nothing close to a romantic partner yet). Also, the pouring of the drink–once, then twice–would seem to recall the adult practice of pouring drinks for oneself and one’s partner after a long day or at a party. This shows this age-group’s (perhaps unconscious) desire to  mimic the adult relationships they see with their own peers.

Alley Murderer

Item:

Informant: “Mhmm the murderer would come back and  jump out and kill the girl if she walked down the alleyway.”

Me: “Wait didn’t the murder occur, like, several decades earlier?”

There is an alleyway that school kids, including the informant, passed by every day coming home from school. The alley was a very convenient shortcut to get home. However, it was told among the kids that years before, a girl walked down the alley and was then murdered. The murderer got away. Now, only boys walk down the alleyway, and all the girls avoid it. They say that if a girl walks down the alleyway, the murderer will jump out and kill her too. So, instead of taking the shortcut, girls would walk about an extra 5 minutes around the large block and meet up on the other side.

 

Context:

The informant recalls this being an occurrence common in early middle school. The murder apparently took place several decades beforehand and the criminal got away. The boys didn’t pay much attention to the story because it was assumed that only girls would be targeted. He said that as they got older, it was talked about less, but the girls still avoided the alley.

 

Analysis:

The concept of a specific place, especially a route, being associated with death or murder is really interesting in this context. Kids at any point in elementary through middle school are beginning to deal with the realities of both death and violent crime. By creating a story (or perhaps propagating a fact) around the alley, they’ve drawn a connection between murder and a specific location and scenario: the alley, a girl, an un-captured murderer. To a certain extent, it’s an example of boys and girls segregating at the early stages of puberty. Perhaps it’s a rare opportunity to have just the boys talking in one place and the girls talking in another for 5 minutes after a day of school. Even more so, it’s almost an empowering way for kids to deal with death. By the girls avoiding the alley, they are effectively cheating what they associate with being killed. And for the boys, it’s almost a courageous act because they are confident they won’t be the victims, so they take the convenient route. It’s also worth noting that for something that happens on a daily basis, 5 minutes extra on a walk is sort of inconvenient. The story was obviously taken seriously enough to convince girls they should take the long way home.

Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary

When my informant was little, she had heard about the legend of Bloody Mary. At her elementary school, one of the girl’s bathrooms was supposedly haunted by the ghost of Bloody Mary and those who were brave enough could go in, turn the lights off and then spin around three times yelling out her name. If they did this correctly they would see Bloody Mary dressed in white in front of them in the mirror.

Bloody Mary is a classic folklore figure amongst youths. I know that I had heard about Bloody Mary when I was in grade school as well and my friends and I would all go into the bathroom together to try to see her. Although the true origins of Bloody Mary are unknown, the story my informant had heard was where a woman named Mary had committed suicide because one of her children was stolen from her. All of the stories involving Mary, however, seem to be associated with children and childbirth, which is possibly why she is “Bloody” Mary. Like we discussed in class, mostly girls knew about this myth, especially since Bloody Mary resided in the girls’ bathroom.

Your Boob is Showing aka Somebody’s Thinking of You

An oicotype of the folk belief that “Somebody’s thinking of you” when the clasp and pendant of your necklace touch, the phrase which is usually said/signified by a person who isn’t wearing the necklace.

As told verbatim by informant:

“Yeah, people have that thing where the clasp of your necklace and the pendant touch each other and they say ‘Somebody’s thinking of you.’ ‘Your boob is showing, someone’s thinking of you’—my mom always tells me that. I always think I have a nip-slip or something. (laughing) She says it in front of people too. It’s more like now when I see it I think ‘Who’s thinking of me?’ It’s like ‘Who would’ve done that?’ She def brings it up. She says it to get my attention more I guess. Like when I tell my friends ‘Hey, your boob is showing’ they don’t know what I’m talking about, but I think I tend to say that so that they’ll look down themselves to find out someone’s thinking of them.”

This little dite is a legitimate folk belief to my informant. The forwardness of her mother’s version is humorous to say the least. Of course this belief/dite is something my informant knows to be subjective to girls and from the reference to “boobs” probably has its origin among pubescent girls. Naturally, this is a time when having someone think of you, especially romantically, comes into the forefront of young girl’s minds. In this case though, the sheer fact that my informant’s mother has her special signifying dite always reminds my informant of her. Since she’s picked up saying this dite, she consciously allows the person who’s “being thought of” the simple pleasure of finding out that someone’s thinking of them for themselves. To my informant, it’s a real thing, and even at age 20 she enjoys thinking about who might have her on their mind.

Song

When I was in camp many years ago, all of the girls would sing “Miss Suzy had a steamboat”, and do the hand motions along with it.  However, this clapping gave was not just done at camps, it was everywhere.  Girls would do it while standing in line, or in the car on the way to school.

Miss Suzy had a steamboat, the steamboat had a bell (ding ding)
Miss Suzy went to heaven, the steamboat went to
Hello operator, please give me number nine
If you disconnect me, I’ll cut off your
Behind the ‘frigerator, there was a piece of glass
Miss Suzy fell upon it and it cut her in the
Ask me no more questions and tell me no more lies
The boys are in the bathroom zipping up their
Flies are in the meadow, bees are in the park
Miss Suzy and her boyfriend were kissing in the
D. A. R. K. D. A. R. K. Dark. Dark
Darker than the ocean,
Darker than the sea,
Darker than the underwear
My mommy puts on me!
I know you know my mommy,
I know you know my pa,
I know you know my sister
With the 42 inch bra!

Upon first hearing the song and watching the young girls play the game; the song does not seem bad at all.  However, when you listen closer, there are many “bad” words that young girls should not be using.  However, the girls are not actually using the bad words because the words are cleverly disguised in the phrasing of the song.  For instance, in “the steamboat went to Hello operator”, the word hell is disguised.  However, the word hell is the obvious word that was meant to be placed there.  Other phrases about boys zipping up their flies, or 42inch bras, are all taboo for these young children.  The children are not allowed to use these words in their everyday speech so they have found a clever release through the song.

Freud would say that this song is representative of the young children’s repressed sexuality.  Their sexuality is not allowed to show through in everyday society, but this song allows them a safe outlet to express and experiment with it. Another interesting point is that girls are the main singers of this song.  This could be for many reasons.  First, in our society boys are not “suppose” to sing.  Singing is a female gendered activity according to the gender roles of today’s society.  Also Boys are often allowed to be “bad”, it is expected of them to break the rules and go against the grain.  However, girls are supposed to be refined and appropriate at all times.  This song allows the girls to release their developing sexual energy without being inappropriate.