MR: “Oh…Did you ever play Bubblegum bubblegum in a dish, how many pieces do you wish?”
MG: Wait can you explain how it went?
MR: “When you are going to play a game and you need to choose a person, everyone has to put their shoe in the middle (puts foot in middle) then you say …”Bubblegum bubblegum in a dish, how many pieces do you wish?” oh and then whoever it lands on has to pick a number and then it continues until that number is reached. Whoever it lands on gets out until the last person is left.”
Context: We were talking about childhood games and this rhyme came up.
Background: Informant is twenty four years old and from the Los Angeles area. RR remembers playing this in school for tag or hide and seek and also with her cousins. She believes she learned this from the other students in her class. Then, she taught this to her little brothers.
Analysis: Children often teach other children folklore. I thought it was quite interesting that regardless of the fact that RR is two/three years older than me, I also learned this rhyme from other children in my school. It shows that folklore can live on for many years and now lives in our memories. This song/rhyme is a common example of children bringing order and structure to their play. This rhyme allows children to choose a leader in a fair way. Because the person it lands on the first time gets to chose a number it leads it up to fate, in a sense, to choose the person who will be “it.” It prevents kids from fighting over being chosen or not being chosen.
“Sana sana, colita de rana. Si no te alivias hoy, te alivias mañana”
Translation: Heal, heal, little tail of a frog. If you do not heal today, you will heal tomorrow.
This saying has been promulgated throughout almost all Spanish speaking households, and the interlocutor asserts that it is an essential aspect of growing up and learning the capacity of one’s body and mind. The last part of the saying usually goes “si no sanas hoy, sanarás mañana,” which is more directly translated to heal, while the verb aliviar, as used in my interlocutor’s version, translates more directly to alleviate. She mentioned that her personal version is one she learned from her own mother despite the other version being much more popular. She taught this version to her own children, saying it when they came to her with scrapes and bruises, seeking comfort amidst their tears.
This saying is most commonly used to comfort an ill or hurt child. Arguably a universal notion, children have quite an immense amount of energy that requires some sort of exertion. Through this, many children play throughout their youth, and in doing so, they are exposed to myriad dangers and possibilities of getting injured. Therefore, this saying allows and even encourages the exploration that children experience through play, asserting that an injury by way of play is one that is trivial and easily cured. This saying also illustrates the compassion and care that Latino parents give to their children, reassuring them that tomorrow promises healing and opportunity for further exploration.
In the following, my informant details a tradition she and her sister shard with her father growing up:
When I was little we always had to do our homework before we went outside, but before that, my dad would come pick us up from school and he’d always make us snacks like it was, my dad made snacks, and whether it was nachos, or whether he made, like, I don’t know leftovers from the night before that we weren’t going to have for dinner, he’d always make them for us, and then, he never played with us but he’d always, if my mom wasn’t home, he’d let us play outside with our friends before we did our homework, which would make my mom so mad, so we did that.
The following tradition shows the dichotomy between the father and mother parent relationship common in many American households. Whereas the Mom tried to keep order and discipline, by requiring the informant finish her work before playing outside, the father would make the informant snacks and let her play outside earlier, thus, although incurring the mom’s wrath, winning the reputation of the benevolent father, a situation many parents have to deal with, where a mom is trying to be strict and a Dad, who often spends less time with the kids, will come home and release the children from the Mom’s imposed discipline.