Mama had a baby and its head popped off

We used to play a game with dandylions that was funny!
We would get some newbie in the “hood” to hide the stem on himself somewhere, and we would have to guess where in 3 tries. The dandylion had to be one that was ready to seed.
So, the first 2 guesses were very unlikely hiding spots. But the 3rd, oh yeah… its got to be in your mouth! Of course the newbie said “no way”. So, we would make them prove it by opening their mouth. As soon as they did, we would look in and stick the fluffy dandylion in their mouth!
Extra points if they closed their mouth and you pulled the dandylion out with no fluff left on it!..hehhee
Too funny. Of course, you really had to have this trick done to you to really appriciate the humor in it.

By the way, I remember the popping thing too, 1967 if I remember right!

By remarkable co-inkydink, I viewed a videotape last night in class of a woman giving birth to her baby. And, as the camera shots cut from extreme close-up of baby crowning, to wide shot of mother, husband ( looking oddly distressed…), 3 year old daughter scampering around and Midwife… the birth mother’s head did indeed explosively separate from her torso, and fly around the room.

I guess that puts THAT question to rest, huh? :stuck_out_tongue:


( Of course, it reality it was astonishing and beautiful and I was infuriated that some of them “men” in the class snickered at it, as did a few of the women. Idiots.IMHO).

WOW. Another GQ question I wish I’d thought of first.

Okay, I just turned thirty this year and I distinctly remember learning the all dandelion tricks the spring after I moved to Flint, Michigan in 1976, from Orangeburg, SC, where I live now. They made a huge impression me then as I had never seen many dandelions until I moved North (still don’t). I remember the butter-under-the-chin bit, the gunstem and especially the rhyme. All this stuff wears off if you aren’t rather young. I was six.

“Mama had a baby and its head popped off” is how I learned it, too. I taught that to my (step)sisters in Atlanta a few summers later, when I was visting my Pop and stepmama. They’d never heard of it, either.

Given where I heard it and where I helped spread it, I’m wondering if this bit of old-sounding singsong children’s rhyme originated in the north in this century, was regionally spread and gradually moved south…?

It would be helpful if the people who chimed in earlier “I learned it here” could post where they’re from.

People from the East Coast, West Coast, and elsewhere, chime in, too! What’s the dandelion crop like where you are?

What dandylion crop? There was still snow on the ground until 3 days ago, and we’re still getting frost. I want to plant my pumpkins!

It was still popular in Illinois in the eighties, though any name could be substituted…"‘Jenny’ had a baby and her head popped off!’ for example. Other memories…‘chinese jumprope’, the baby bumblebee song, and (mean, I know…) catching fireflies and making glow-in-the-dark ‘bracelets’ from them…ouch.

I seem to be from a <ahem> slightly younger generation (born in 1980). I never did any of those things to the dandelions…I just made wishes on them, then blew off the seeds. Kinda like blowing out birthday candles.

As a child, I never realized how morbid some of the children’s rhymes are…I am now recalling a jumprope rhyme about Cinderella getting bit by a snake (or was it her boyfriend? I can’t remember).

In the interest of furthering sociological research…

I grew up in the Pacific NW, and remember doing the “Momma had a baby…” in the early '70’s as a wee bairn. I remember it being taught to me by an older, wise, wordly neighbor girl of about 8 years of age.

I did do dandelion popping, but without the rhyme.

But wasn’t the rubbing on your chin to see if you like butter thing for buttercups?

Buffalo, New York – early 1970s. You popped the blossom off right after you said “off,” not when you said “head.” Sometimes, you made a short popping noise when you “popped the head” with your thumb.

We had the ladybug song, too.

When we did “Eenie Meenie Minie Moe,” we used “tiger.”


Cinderella, dressed in yella
Went upstairs to kiss a fella
Made a mistake and kissed a snake,
How many doctors did it take?

1,2,3,4,5 …until you miss.

And as to the OP - same as GargoyleWB, only farther north, and learned off my brother.

Hmm… kissing the boyfriend and getting a snake?

Nooo. That’s not suggestive at all!

And then it takes a buncha doctors to fix?

I think that brings us right back to birthing and popping heads!

little rhymes like these are so interesting…and Kleinian, no less. children are the most violent, murderous little monsters–understandably, though. My bet is that Melanie Klein would attribute this to the fear/hate/envy children have for their parents, since they are dependant on them. everyone knows children ponder the workings of the world through play. this is just vocalization and making light of a fear every child has.

Hmm. this could be subject to a whole other thread. i am relatively new to Klein. any feedback is welcome.


To this day, I cannot pass a snapdragon without doing this, though I never actually pick them off the plant. Last night, my best friend received a big bouquet of flowers for Nurses’ Week. With my help, her snapdragons told her in a wee little voice, “happy nurses’ week, Jeni!” They even have little teeth in there.

We also used to use cattail bombs on each other. A hard whipping with an overripe cattail will leave the victim coated with fluff.

Also did the head-popping dandelion thing: in our version, “her” head popped off. After we popped the heads off, we’d carefully shred the bottoms of the stems and put them in water to watch them curl up.

Did anyone else make frogbellies with sedum leaves?
All this was circa 1970’s, northern Illinois. My husband’s a Texan, so I’ll interrogate him to see if the customs are the same here in the southwest. (No access to cattails here, though.)

Definitely had the dandelion thing in Chicago in the early '80s…and can also vouch for the ladybug rhyme being part of my childhood, but none of this “boy crazy” litmus test nonsense. :slight_smile:

Other fond memories that this thread got me started on include “fortune teller” games (one being a list game and one being a device you could make from notebook paper) and Miss Susie Had A Steamboat.

Never heard of the dandelion thing, but the ladybug rhyme is mentioned in Tom Sawyer, so it must date at least from the nineteenth century.

Hmmm… no one has mentioned that sometimes you’ll ask what the 10th piggy did, and when the person responds, “It went wee-wee-wee, all the way home”, you scrap the dandelion head down the inside of their arm, leaving a large yellow path of goo.

I miss childhood…

In Michigan in the late 70s we used:

my mother told me to pick the very best one and you are not it you dirty dishrag you!

Bite me :wink: I was in third grade in 1973.

Maryland here, we also did the dandelion “head popped off” thing.
Buttercups were for seeing if someone liked butter.

Great link, moi! I remember nearly all those songs, but we did them as the hand-clapping games, not jumping rope. “Say, say, oh, playmate” and “Miss Mary Mack”! That was my childhood!

As for the “Miss Susie Had A Steamboat” thing, it was another of the hand-clapping games; you and a partner would face each other and clap hands in a set pattern and rhythm…your own hands and your partners. I’m not explaining it right. Does anyone else know what I mean? There were tons of songs (ditties) we did it to.

Michigan kindergarten, 1955-1956.

I never heard the chant with the dandelion. (The guys used to mash dandelions into each others’ faces and arms and, occasonally, shirts, but there was no ritual associated with it.)

“Do you like butter?” was done with buttercups.

“Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home…” was performed if you found a ladybug on your clothing, because ladybugs were “good” and you weren’t supposed to hurt them. (But you never picked up a ladybug and put it on your hand just to blow it off.)

“Eenie, meenie, miney, moe, . . . .” probably used “nigger” when I was very young, but we said it so fast that it just sounded like another nonsense word. About the time that I was old enough to understand that it was a word, it changed to “tiger” in some houses and the chant was banned in other houses. (I was probably 9 or 10 before I heard the word “nigger” used to refer to a person, and then it was either in a discussion of the 1950’s Civil Rights movements or in a recitation of a 19th century poem of a steamboat fire that included the line “a nigger squat down on the governor valve.” I grew up in lily-white suburbs and my folks never used the word.)

My Texan husband, who spent age 9-10 in Iowa, looked at me like I was crazy when I asked him about the “head popped off”. He says they did mark on each other with dandelions. He’s also never heard of the “do you like butter?” thing, and says I was a weird child.

Kinsey, we did the handclaps incessantly, too. Now you’ve got “say say my playmate” going through my head. Thanks a lot. :stuck_out_tongue: I never understood it, though:

Say, say my playmate, come out and play with me,
and bring your dollies three, climb up my apple tree,
slide down my rainbow, into my cellar door,
and we’ll be jolly friends, forevermore (one, two, three, four, four, four).