The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #110753   Message #2625430
Posted By: Azizi
06-May-09 - 10:42 AM
Thread Name: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my p

Children, Children.

Yes, Teacher.

Where have you been?

To Grandmom's *

What did she give you?

Bread and cheese.

Where's my share?

Up in the air.

How can I reach it?

Stand on the chair.

Suppose I fall?

We don't care.

Ha, Ha, Ha.

Class is dismissed.

London Bridge is falling down,    {This part is sung to that familiar tune}
Falling down falling down,
London Bridge is falling down.

Back to Detention. (this part returns to the spoken voice)
-Jackie (Black female, 13 years old); Daynail (Black female, 10 years old) , Marlon, (Black male, 8 years old ); 1998, collected by Azizi Powell, 1998, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

*The word "house" was understood in the phrase "to Grandmom's"
By the way the children recited this, you could tell that the children in the "story" were being smart alecky toward the teacher.



Children, children
Yes, Mama.                 

Where yo' been to?

What she give yo'?
Two apples.

Where yo' put them?
On the shelf.

How will yo' get them?
Stand on a chair.
-Grace Hallworth; Down By The River: Afro-Caribbean rhymes, games, and songs for children (Scholastic, 1996)


Different fonts were given in the book for the lines as shown above. This indicates to me that these lines were recited in a call and response manner. Hallworth writes "As the "children" answer "Mama" they creep closer and closer to her until finally "Mama" turns and chases them."

As background for how I heard "Children Children" -I was driving Jackie, Daynall, and Marlon home from a game song session that I facilitated in a near by town. During that 30 minute or so drive, I asked them what other rhymes did they know. Jackie started reciting "Teacher Teacher" first and then her other siblings joined in. This was a unison rhyme and not call and response though there are clearly parts for a teacher and parts for the children/students .

I asked the children how they learned this rhyme. Jackie said she learned it from a teacher, Ms. "C", who recited it during a bus ride to a school field trip. Jackie then taught it to her sister and brother.

Ms "C" is a Black female teacher in her mid to late 30s who taught at the same elementary school where my daughter teaches. I had met "Ms C " several times before and my daughter gave her the message that I was interested in collecting children's rhymes and hoped that she would recite that rhyme for me. Ms C agreed to do so after class one day. Her recitation of that rhyme was a little faster than the one that the siblings chanted, but the words were the same. Also she didn't sing the "London Bridge part". It could be that the reason why her version was faster and her speaking and not singing that part was because she had work to do after class or she might have been embarrassed to recite this rhyme for me. I asked Ms "C" where she had learned it, and she said she learned it when she was a child. In response to my question, Ms. C said she didn't remember anyone ever doing any movements to this rhyme. Jackie, Daynail, and Marlon also indicated that there were no movements done while reciting this rhyme.

In my opinion, "Children Children" is an example of a rhyme that has become separated from its movement activity.   The text and performance activity (chasing) of "We Don't Care" is very much like a portion of the Witchypoo game that Emily shared with us from Washington, MI in the 1970's.