K-I-S-S-I-N-G

It’s one of the first taunts I learned – and the one that taught me the “taunt rhythm,” the meter and tones that make any song a taunt.

_____ and _____, sittin’ in a tree
K-I-S-S-I-N-G
First comes love, then comes marriage
then comes ____ with a baby carriage

The truly inspired would add on the following:

Sucking his thumb, pooping his pants
Trying to do the boogie dance
and that’s not all, that’s not all
he’s also drinking alcohol!”

Other versions I heard over the years changed the pronouns around – it was usually one of the people from the first section drinking the alcohol, not the baby.

This seems to be one of the rhymes that EVERYONE knows (I understand there’s even a Spanish version) – I’ve even seen it listed as a good rhyme for teaching Christian children in a home school as an introduction to sexuality (since it sets up the “normal” sequence of events: first comes love, then come marriage, then comes the baby).

Figuring out just how old it is is tricky – it didn’t start appearing in print much until the 1970s, though by then it was already referred to as an “old” rhyme. A version including the second verse appeared in Texas Monthly (swapping “wetting” for “pooping” and “hula” for “boogie”) in 1976, but in the context it seems clear that it was already considered old. A collection called Glimpses of Appalachian Folklore” lists it as a jump-rope rhyme recorded in Maine in 1961, and Western Folklore listed it as being common in California by the end of the 1960s.

What versions did you know? How old is this thing, anyway?

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30 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    I've heard other things added California late 1990s.
    After alcohol… (Or instead of sometimes)

    That's not all that's not all I saw the baby playing basketball.

    I haven't heard the two lines before the alcohol one.

    Reply
  2. Anonymous

    Grew up a military brat- pretty sure I first learned this between 1960-1964 on an Air Force base in the state of Michigan. Which might help with the time frame but given that my neighbors had grown up all over the world *where* it came from is anybody's guess.

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  3. Anonymous

    Like the other anon, I learned it in CA in the 90's, but never heard the second part you have. The version I knew was:

    _____ and _____, sitting in a tree
    K – I – S – S – I – N – G
    First comes love, then comes marriage
    Then comes a baby in the baby carriage

    That's not all, that's not all
    Then comes a baby playing basketball

    That's not all, that's not all
    Then comes a baby drinking alcohol (after which my parents would glare reproachfully.)

    We'd occasionally make up other stuff to rhyme with "all", but those were the only consistent ones.

    Reply
  4. Anonymous

    NJ, early 80's. Slight differences:

    Then comes (name of person you were taunting) in a baby carriage
    Sucking his thumb
    Peeing his pants
    Doing the hula hula dance

    Reply
  5. Bethany

    This brings back some embarrassing moments. I am not sure when did this thing actually begin but it is certainly not fun when you are in the end of it.

    nappies online

    Reply
  6. Anonymous

    We had…
    Sucking his thumb
    Wetting his pants
    Doing the Hula Hula dance

    Long Island mid 1970's

    Reply
  7. Anonymous

    Oh gosh xD We had followed up with:

    Here comes a baby in a baby carriage!
    That's not all, that's not all,
    Here comes a baby playing basketball!
    That's not all, that's not all,
    Daddy's drinking alcohol!
    That's not all, that's not all!
    Baby got hit with a beer bottle!
    That's not all, that's not all,
    Mommy's popping adderall!
    That's not all, that's not all!
    Mommy's taken quite a fall!
    That's not all, that's not all!
    Daddy's in the grieving hall!
    That's not all, that's not all!
    Baby now can't even crawl!
    That's not all, that's not all!
    Baby's still as a barbie doll!

    We were weird kids. We kept building on that during recess and gym…we didn't even know what adderall was, but "Ken's mom takes it!"

    Reply
  8. Anonymous

    I was on the receiving end of this in 1966 in Water Valley Mississippi. The version I heard was:

    Tim and Sally sittin' in a tree
    K-I-S-S-I-N-G
    First comes love, then comes marriage
    then comes something in a baby carriage

    To which the girl then retorted: Right-o, Right-o, yes siree!

    It was one of the proudest moments of my life *lol*

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  9. Anonymous

    Then comes divorce
    Then comes hate
    Then comes baby on a golden plate

    this was the end of it in London in the nineties/noughties

    Reply
  10. Anonymous

    Coming from a large family (country to the bone, none the less) we children were, and still are, a bit obnoxious toward one another. Whenever one of us would talk about a person of the opposite sex, the other five kids would launch into a chorus of:
    ____ and _____ sitting in a tree,
    K-I-S-S-I-N-G!
    First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage!
    But that's not all, that's not all,
    Then comes a baby playing basketball!
    But that's not all, that's not all,
    Then comes a baby driving up the wall!
    But that's not all, that's not all,
    Then comes a baby drinking alcohol!
    But that's not all, that's not all,
    Then comes a baby playing ba-a-seball!
    But that's not all, that's not
    Then comes a baby making a phone call!

    It would continue with whatever we could think of that rhymed with 'that's not all' until, in the style of Porky Pig, we yelled "That's all for today, folks!"
    I'm pretty sure that last part was exclusive to our family, but I could be wrong.
    (California, 2000s)

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  11. Anonymous

    I like the Cyanide and Happiness version-
    "Johnny and Marissa, sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes an abrupt, tragic miscarriage. Then comes blame, then comes despair. Two hearts damaged beyond repair. Johnny leaves Marissa and takes the tree, D-I-V-O-R-C-E."

    Reply
  12. Milhouse

    Australia, early '70s, in the version I heard, well, let's just say the four-letter verb wasn't K-I-S-S…

    Reply
  13. Anonymous

    …Get out the diapers. Get out the pins.
    Oh my gosh, they just had twins.
    Omaha Ne. 1980s

    Reply
  14. Scot

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    Reply
  15. Scot

    I heard the "K-I-S-S-I-N-G" rhyme at school in Los Angeles, California in the mid-1950s, and I figured it was already old then.

    Reply
  16. Tephy101

    _____ and _____, sittin' in a tree
    F-A-R-T-I-N-G

    Reply
  17. Tephy101

    _____ and _____, sittin' in a gutter
    eating peanut butter
    kissing each other

    Newport News VA 1990s

    Reply
  18. noone

    in my school, its like _____ and _____, sittin' in a tree
    K-I-S-S-I-N-G
    First comes love, then comes marriage
    then comes ____ with a baby carriage
    that's not all, that's not all
    the baby's drinking alcohol!"

    Reply
  19. idk anything

    _____ & ______ sitting on a log they both fell off and had a snog

    me and my friend made this up :

    _____ & ______ sitting on some decks they both fell off and had some sex

    we were about 10-11 years old xD

    Reply
  20. Strange Party

    When the diapers leak, they do it in one of two ways which allows you to troubleshoot a bit. When my baby was small, they'd leak around the thighs. Every time I put the diaper on, I'd slide a finger along the thigh and make sure the elastic was snug, no gaps. This helped a lot.
    honest diaper

    Reply
  21. Swirl-Girl

    _____&______ Sitting in a tree!
    K-I-S-S-I-N-G
    First comes love!
    Then comes marriage!
    Then comes baby in a baby carriage!
    That's not all! That's not all!
    The baby's drinkin' Alcohol!

    (WAY upstate NY, 2005-now)

    Reply
  22. Ace Ebb

    Central NJ, 1983
    [boy] and [girl] sitting in a tree
    K-I-S-S-I-N-G
    first comes love
    then comes marriage
    then comes baby in the baby carriage
    sucking his thumb, wetting his pants
    trying to do a hula dance
    (my cousins in Wyckoff, NJ sang "doing the hula-hula dance)

    My brother-in-law once recited additional verses that were totally unknown to me, which he would have picked up in Maryland in the mid to late 70's:

    that's not all, that's not all
    they were drinking al-co-hol
    that's not all, that's not all
    they were making out on the wall
    that's not all, that's not all
    they were playing naked volleyball

    Reply
  23. Lehk

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    Reply
  24. Lehk

    Upstate NY 90's we had a variant

    F-_-_-_-I-N-G

    Reply
  25. Juan

    I heard the basic version all over the country from the late '60s through the '70s.

    Reply
  26. WhittleMario

    ______ and ________, sitting in a tree,
    K-I-S-S-I-N-G,
    First comes love,
    Then comes marriage,
    Then comes the abrupt, tragic miscarriage
    Then comes blame,
    Then comes despair,
    Two hearts damaged beyond repair,
    _________ leaves _________, and takes the tree,
    D-I-V-O-R-C-E.

    Saw this on the internet.

    Reply
  27. Erika Parker-Smyser

    Iona and Peter Opie, The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren (Oxford:Oxford University Press, 1959)
    I'm only 4 years too late on this post!
    I wrote more about this but it all got deleted :-( I found this as a reference on the K-I-S-S-I-N-G wiki which means it was around and probably widely known by the 1959 publication.
    Adding more to your search for the origin! Maybe researching about where this couple grew up could help find new parts of the country where it would have been early on.

    Reply
  28. Regular GeoX

    Huh! The version I heard (central Pennsylvania, early eighties) was similar to these, but with one variation I haven't seen here:

    That's not all, *they were bald,*
    Now they're drinking alcohol!

    "Bald" was said to be a euphemism for "naked." Ooh!

    Reply
  29. Unknown

    That's the way I learned it too.

    Reply
  30. anonymous

    _____ and _____, sittin’ in a tree
    K-I-S-S-I-N-G
    First comes the love, second comes the marriage
    third comes the baby in a golden carriage

    Sucking his thumb, pooping his pants
    Trying to do the boogie dance
    and that’s not all, that’s not all
    now the baby’s drinking alcohol!

    Reply

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