Childhood Memes

“You are a peeeenis, you are a peeeeeenis!”

I was pretty impressed. Or curious. Fascinated? Now, if anyone else called me that, I would be offended. I chose to not alert him to this. After all, he calls me broccoli, cookie, and hat too. It just happened that he was going pee, and that’s where his attention was. He also doesn’t need to think that Mommy is offended by that part of his anatomy, or that there’s anything wrong or dirty or embarrassing or anything about it.

What fascinated me was the sing-song of the naming. In the past he’s just announced, “You’re a muffin,” and laughed. But this was to the tune of the schoolyard taunt branded into all our memories. The na-na-na-boo-boo meme.

What IS it about that series of tones that makes it such an effective little meme? Cameron has difficulty singing a song recognizably, yet that tune comes through loud and clear. Every little kid knows it, and we remember it I’m certain long after other details of youth slip away.

Is it the tune itself? Or the meaning connected with the tune?


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