The History of "Thumbkin"
“Where is Thumbkin? Where is Thumbkin?”
“Here I am! Here I am!”
“How are you today, sir?”
“Very well, I thank you!”
There are some different renditions of this little song, but I have explored the origination of this song and its original meaning. First, I need to show you the first clue and that is the use of wiggling the thumb when two are singing this song (or one person using two hands if you are the only person in the room.) This comes from the signal for the underground resistance of France between the periods of 1940-1941. Thumbkin represents the youth of the resistance who will rebuild the world once the war was over. The question of the older person is “Where is [the future leaders of our country]” and the youth respond “Here I am!” It is no doubt that this song was a morale booster during the time of Germany’s Occupation of France. The next line “How are you today, sir?” is an important one. The old is calling the new “sir” signifying that Older France will follow the Younger leaders toward a new era of peace and longevity. The next line “Very Well, I thank you!” is the acceptance of such a role from the younger generation. They thank the older generation for their confidence in their youth as a symbol of respecting the elders that came before them. The last phrase “Runaway, Runaway” has also been seen rendered as “Run and Hide, Run and Hide,” in either case, it is a reminder that the war is still going on and one cannot trust that their current position will not be found. The resistance must survive!* This is a very patriotic song to teach to all young children everywhere.
*unless your resistance movement is evil. Then shame on you! Go and choose a different song like ... oh I don't know ... maybe "Have you seen the ghost of John"