Engine, engine number nine,My question for all you experienced moms out there is this: at what point, if ever, does this rhyme stop striking cold terror into your heart every time you hear it?
Going down the railway line.
If you step upon a crack,
You will break your mother's back.
Is he trying to step on a crack?
I'm not a mom yet, but I am a diligent crack-avoider. Even when passenging in a car, I feel the need to psychologically jump the cracks with my eyes or fingers, and sometimes there is some definite buttock pseudojumping. I also feel the need to step in very specific patterns on linoleum floors with patterns. Often it includes shadows as well. So let's just say, 'Be careful what you wish for.' :-)
Ooh... makes me glad my little monkey can't talk yet! However, if its bad now, wait until he *knows* he's getting to you with that... Or maybe he does already?
I did some searching just to find the origins, since sometimes that seems to help (for me at least) but the interwebs do not seem to be in agreement on this. So, it's either an old racist rhyme that's been cleaned up, a rhyme that used to scare children by telling them bears would eat them, or it's rooted in fear of letting souls escape from squares. Not much help but I am now really curious.
I knew I'd heard alternate words to this -- maybe you can re-route his rhyming! What I found is an 'eeny meeny' choose-who's-it rhyme. Tap fists with each syllable:
Engine, engine number nine
going down Chicago line,
If the train falls off the track,
do you want your money back?
==The player's whose fist is hit
would say "yes" or "no" and that
word would be spelled out like so:
N-O spells no,
you don't get your money back!
- or -
Y-E-S spells yes
you shall have you money back!
If it was me, I would definitely try inserting new words or even a whole 'nother rhythmic rhyme. I wouldn't want to hear about my back breaking all day long.
Oh and I *have* successfully gotten my kids (3 and 5 y.o.) to stop chanting things I didn't like. The trick is to call no attention to the odious rhyme and find something silly or attention catching to substitute.
Oh wow - I started reading that, thinking, If he says "On the ny transit line...if the train goes off the track, pick it up pick it up pick it up!" then I will have to steal this kid for myself. And clone him. And then return him, of course.
So - Young Master Sam is safe. But I totally had a year or two where I was OCD with the not-stepping-on-crack-ness, because my mother has relatively chronic back problems. That wasn't pretty.
I read that children say these sorts of things once they start developing a more complicated relationship with humour. It is the incongruity of it all - the sense that it is just so wrong to say such things about one's mother. There is a pleasure in saying things like this, not because it holds any truth, but because you can say things one ought not to and get away with it because it's a little rhyme or tale.
If it bothers you, then maybe redirect him as others have suggested, or maybe ask him if he would be so kind as to avoid stepping on cracks because his mother likes her back and needs it very much.
Of course, he might just like saying those lines because he likes to hear trochees bouncing out of his mouth.
I recently became a parent myself. I can only hope that my girl has as good and thoughtful parents as Sam's.
Just wait until Christmas time, when you can look forward to "Jingle bells, batman smells, robin laid an egg" over and over. And over.
I'm more concerned by the way the first part and the 2nd part have nothing at all to do with each other. The train's going to step on a crack? What are you teaching this kid??
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