NEW YORK FOLKLORE QUARTERLY
Vol. XVI, No. 2, Summer, 1960
YOU’RE IT IN YORK STATE
Eugenia L. Millard
UNLIKE the nicety of language traditionally employed
among Australian children who prefer, “You are HE,”
or “Who shall be SHE?” our slightly less precise youngsters
still shout, “You’re IT,” to the companion who is selected to
fulfill the leader’s rôle in their play practices. In New York State
the neuter pronoun is customarily used in the predicate, “Let’s
choose IT.” The designation does not necessarily infer that the
child selected to be IT takes on a disagreeable duty. Rather, the
children generally prefer what they believe to be fair and impartial
methods of allowing one member of their group to serve as
starter for their combined pleasure. This preference, moreover,
may be boldly associated with play customs the world around,
whether here in the Empire State or “Down Under” makes little
There are various methods among our children for determining
who shall have the distinction of being IT in their games. Not
infrequently the child who speaks up first, thus showing his initiative
as a leader in his group, takes upon himself the responsibility.
Drawing straws, tossing coins, or choosing between objects concealed
in two hands are often satisfactory ways of selection. Such
means of choosing a leader may be carried out quickly and are
resorted to when the participants of the game are anxiously waiting
for action to begin. The time-tested procedure, however, is
that of using a wide variety of popular counting-out rhymes, a
term which the children themselves rarely use. By this means the
players perform a kind of ritual, the result of which is binding
upon all concerned....
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