Friday, April 13, 2007

Jelly in the Bowl

My daughter, home for Easter, found a forgotten package of orange Jello in the back of the cabinet. "Ooh, Jello! Let's make it right now."

It seemed like a lot of excitement over plain old Jello after I had gone to some trouble to stock all her favourite foods for the holiday, but, oh, well, it's certainly not hard to make. On goes the kettle and out comes the mixing bowl.

Confronted with that familiar chemical fragrance and in-your-face colour, I was suddenly catapulted back through time. Food fads come and go, but there's always Jello. An old skipping rhyme popped into my head, one of the first I ever learned.

Jelly in the bowl, jelly in the bowl,
A-wig-a-wag, a-wig-a-wag, Jelly in the bowl.

Sausage in the pan, sausage in the pan,
A-wig-a-wag, a-wig-a-wag, sausage in the pan.

This was accompanied by vigorous waggling of one's hind end, hopefully without missing a step, which is quite a feat if you are very small and just learning to skip. We children thought it was hilarious and a little naughty.My daughter had never heard that one. She thought it was funny, too. We spent some time recalling other skipping rhymes, coming up with a dozen or so off the tops of our heads.

My old granny, ninety-nine,
She can drink a barrel of wine.
She can drink a bowl of soup,
To make her belly go boop-boop-boop.

Passed orally from child to child down through how who-knows-how-many ages, they tend to be irreverent, ungrammatical, impolite, sexist, ageist, probably racist, certainly politically incorrect. Raw kid culture.

Do not leave this rope be empty.
If you do, you shall be out!

I hardly ever see groups of girls skipping in the street anymore. In my day (that's the Jurassic era, not the Antedeluvian) it was one of the certain signs of spring.

Of course, I was a baby boomer in a Catholic town. Almost every house teemed with children, and it was usually easy to get a gang together just by stepping outside with a long rope in your hand. Parents were also eager (not to say desperate) to keep the kids outdoors as much as possible, as the houses were pretty small for the size of the families. Skipping drew in a wide age group, from about five to about thirteen. Once you were in high school, you didn't skip anymore, even if you wished you could.

In this village where I live now, there are fewer young families, fewer children, and I suppose less willingness to let children entertain themselves for hours outdoors, especially on the street (although road hockey still flourishes). However, I still see skipping ropes for sale in the stores, and sometimes I see a rope turning on a school playground. So I'm hoping the rhymes are still alive and being passed on.

Cinderella dressed in yella
Went downtown to see her fella.
Guess how many kisseshe got?
One, two, three...

1 comment:

Linda said...

:-) I never the heard the "My old granny, ninety-nine..." rhyme, but as a kid I would have LOVED it!
Great color in that orange jello painting, too!