"Cooties" used to mean lice. Nowadays in the US, "cooties" refers to an imaginary disease that a boy can give to a girl (or vice versa) by touching her. Normally one kid goes up to another kid, touches their arm and yells "You've got the cooties!" Then they run away. This song uses the earlier definition.

There are many versions of this song. In fact, sometimes the bugs in this song are roaches or mosquitoes and bedbugs.

The Cooties and the Bedbugs - American Children's Songs - The USA - Mama Lisa's World: Children's Songs and Rhymes from Around the World  - Intro Image

Notes

Cory Sesko sent the version her mother sang with the following note:

"What a surprise to find versions of this song on-line. An odd children's song to be sure.

Nevertheless imprinted on my young brain. Our mother was always humming or singing growing up. Spontaneously belting into song - especially when we kids bickered.

The version I, and my 9 siblings were taught below. An even odder version, and might be considered politically incorrect today.

🎢🎡 I was standing on a corner doing no harm.
Along came a Copper and took me by the arm.
He took me to a funny place and rang a funny bell.
Along came another and took me to my cell.
I woke up in the morning and there upon the wall,
The bed bugs and the cooties were having a game of ball.
The score was 6 to nothing.
The bedbugs were ahead. T
he cooties hit a homerun and knocked me out of bed. 🎼🎢

Thank you for posting this bit of American history.

Kind Regards,

Cory"
*****

Stephanie Ossendorf sent this version with the note, "My father used to sing this to me when I was a little girl...."

One day while I lay sleeping
And gazed upon the wall
Casey & the bedbugs
Were having a game of ball.

The score was 4 to nothing
The bedbugs were ahead
Casey hit a home run
And knocked us out of bed.
*****

Karina Clarke wrote:

"I've been looking around for a copy of this tune that my grandfather used to sing before bed every night when I was a child. I plan on getting a tattoo relating to the tune in the future! The version he sang was..."

One night as I lay in my bed,
I saw upon the wall,
The cooties and the bedbugs were playing a game of ball,
The score was 1 to nothing,
The bedbugs were ahead,
The cooties hit a home run,
And I fell out of bed.
*****

Carrie Ann Colton wrote, "Here is the version my mother, born in 1945, taught me:

I woke up one morning, looked upon the wall,
The cooties and the bedbugs were having a game of ball.
The score was 9 to nothing, the cookies were ahead.
The bedbugs scored a home run and knocked me out of bed.
They knocked me down to breakfast, the bread was cold and stale, the coffee was tobacco juice, fresh from the county jail.
Oh slide Kelly, slide! Casey's at the bat! Oh Mikey, oh Riley, where'd ya get that hat!
Oh, the bread without the butter and the milk without the cheese. It's just as bad, or maybe worse, as a hug without a squeeze.

Another version

I woke up….
the bedbugs scored a home run
and hit me in the head.
My head was sore for weeks and weeks,
They all laughed and clapped.
But when the ceiling started to leak,
they all went home for a nap!

Oh, it ain't gonna rain no more no more,
it ain't gonna rain no more!
How in the heck can I wash my neck,
if it ain't gonna rain no more!"

The Cooties and the Bedbugs - American Children's Songs - The USA - Mama Lisa's World: Children's Songs and Rhymes from Around the World 1

Comments

Please email me the version of this song that you know! Thanks! Mama Lisa

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Thanks and Acknowledgements

Thanks to Cory Sesko for sending her mom's version! Thanks to Stephanie Ossendorf for sending her father's version! Thanks to Karina Clarke for sending her grandfather's version. Thanks to Monique Palomares for the illustrations! Thanks to Carrie Ann Colton for sending her version!