Mudcat Café message #1751591 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #81350   Message #1751591
Posted By: Azizi
02-Jun-06 - 07:54 AM
Thread Name: I'm Rubber . You're Glue: Children's Rhymes
Subject: RE: I'm Rubber. You're Glue: Children's Rhymes
Thanks for that observation, thurg.

If that premise holds up, then maybe "class" {ie income} is a significant factor, since usually poorer kids have less opportunity to go to summer camps than kids whose families have more money.

It seems to me that most collectors gather the lyrics of children's rhymes and fail to document alot of other demographics that I think may be important. Often the only demographics that collectors sometimes note for their non-adult informants are nationality, age, and gender. I'm of the opinion that other variables should be documented as these demographics may influence which types of rhymes the children recite, the meaning of certain slang terms found in the rhymes, the inclusion of famous persons mentioned in the rhyme, and how [and why] the rhymes are performed the way they are or the way they were performed.

As an example of this premise, it's my opinion that 'being [mentally & emotionally] tough [also known as 'bening hard'] is an important coping mechanism and survival strategy among poor urban residents {without regard to race]. In African American urban poor communities, from a very early age some children are socialized to be tough and stoic. When something bad happens to them, children and adults are supposed to "suck it up" {meaning show no outward reaction, and keep whatever sadness or disappointment and especially any fear that they are feeling inside them}. A stern face, or mean face or smirk is greatly preferred to a sad or sacred face or een a hopeful demeanor. My interpretation of this is that if a person shows grief, or fear, or even hopefulness that would signal vulnerability that could be exploited by another person.

As a foster care caseworker, I have seen a birth mother start this toughing up regiment with her less than one year old son. During once a week two hour visits with her son, this 20 year old African American birth mother often talked to him about being tough. She "played" with her son by pretending to punch him {complete with 'pow' 'pow' 'pow'} sound effects}. And she chided him for being a 'punk' or a wimp if he started crying. This birth mother critized her son's foster mother for not raising her son to be tough enough. "Class" and/or differences in these women's backgrounds & lifestyles have much more influence than race in how the birth mother and the foster mother would parent this child. Both of these two women are Black. They happen to live less than 5 minutes apart by car in the same section {but not the same neighborhood} of the same city. The birth mother is a non-church going woman who was incarcerated as a young teen. She was raised in public housing developments, and lived in a public housing apartment until she was evicted for failure to pay her rent. The birth mother was on welfare until her child was removed from her. She now has no legal income. In contrast, the foster mother comes from a church going, tightly knit, working class family. She lives in a rental house, works ouside the home, and receives income for being a foster child. Because this particular child has engaged in more aggressive behavior toward his foster mother and other children in the home after his visits with his birth mother, the foster mother guessed that the child's birth mother is 'teaching him how to fight'.

What does this have to do with children's rhymes? Well, I think that this "be hard' value is found througout a large number of African American children's rhymes. As an example, at the end of the
"I Don't Want to go to Mexico" handclap rhyme, the two children {usually girls] doing the handclap routine try to be the first one to slap the other one on the forehead. The child who is slapped is supposed to laugh it off.

I don't think that was a part of the original "I Don't Want To Go To Macys". rhyme.

Maybe kids who have to been toughened up and who are concerned about day to day survivals don't have time to cross themselves or others' out with 'great big globs' types of rhymes. Or maybe it would be counter to their 'hard as nails' culture to show any response at all to these yucky rhymes.

And maybe it's just that the rhymes aren't percussive enough. I don't know. Maybe I'm far off base with these speculations.

And maybe I'm not.