Though “Eeny Meeny” deserves its own post, I’ll attempt to lump the major “counting out” rhymes kids use to determine who is “it” into one post.
We would play these just for fun more often than we used them to determine who was “it.” It got to be easy to cheat after a while – you can so easily change “yes, no, maybe so” to “yes, no OR maybe so” to get an extra space to count, or, more often, if the loser was the one on the last line, we’d add “today” to the end. This led to many fights.
As with most of these things, the origin of them is obscure, but they probably go back a while. When a person is called on to say “yes” or “no,” or pick a number, I’ve just thrown something in.
Engine, engine number 9
going down Chicago line
if the train goes off the track
do you want your money back
Yes, no, maybe so.
Y-E-S spells yes and you are not it”
Bubble gum, bubble gum in a dish
how many pieces do you wish?
1-2-3 and you are not it
Inka, binka, bottle of ink
cork fell out and YOU stink
Skunk in the barnyard, P.U.
somebody ate it, that’s you!
(note: sung to the tune of Shave and a Haircut.)
(further note: the above two, like I Think I Think I Fin’ a stink, the above two are also used to taunt someone who farts)
Green apples make me sick
not because they’re dirty
not because they’re clean
not because the girls kiss like this (kiss noise)
my mom told me to pick the very best one
and you are not it today
(This was a favorite of a kid in my kindergarten. I thought that he made it up. And, indeed, it doesn’t EXACTLY appear anywhere that I’ve seen, but it seems to be a mash-up of several different rhymes. The line “not because they’re dirty, not because they’re clean” comes up in taunts and rhymes all the time, and has for years – in 1964, one of the Clancy brothers remembers shouting “not because you’re dirty, not because you’re clean / because you have the whooping cough / and eat margarine) (the book on the left expands this greatly)
Another collected by SHerman that the kid in my class may have just been trying to remember:
Candy apples on a stick make my stomach go 246
Not because I’m dirty, not because I’m clean
Just because I kissed a boy behind a magazine
Hey, boys, how bout a fight
here comes shannon on a mini mini bike
She can wibble, she can wobble, she can do the splits
she most of all, he can kiss, kiss, kiss!
Anyway, we cheated like crazy at these, just the way they did on Seinfeld. Did you?