When I come in from work, I like to take at least an hour to reflect on my day, past experiences, some of the kids I’ve worked with, etc. Today my thoughts floated to a real Pablo Picasso I had the pleasure of working with. I actually saw this child walking home from school the other day and I must admit that I had to pull over and laugh hysterically. I’m laughing now, just thinking about him.
It is well known among my friends and colleagues that I can speak French and Creole. On many occasions, I have been asked to translate for a parent or teacher. At times, co-workers have asked me to call a French or Creole-speaking parent and I am always willing to lend a helping hand. Unfortunately, this was a time in which I wasn’t so eager to help translate.
Pablo (that’s what we’ll call him) decided to explore his artistic side with one of the Resource teachers. I guess he figured he should channel his inner Seth (from “Superbad”) and draw some very detailed “male parts” (if you get my drift) in class. His resource teacher intercepted the note like a solid running back and proceeded to call the parent. My esteemed colleague knew she would have a hard time talking to the parent so she decided to ask me to call the parent and relay the message. After getting the story from the Resource teacher, I practice what I’m going to say to the parent and then come to the realization that I do not know the “PC term” for that “male part” in Creole. It’s sad to say that I knew every derogatory term for that word, but could not even think about the right way to say it. Of course, I found this to be hilarious.
Before calling Pablo’s mother, I figured I should find out the “PC term” for “male private part” in Creole. My dear mother was delighted to come to my rescue. However, not before flipping out and asking me why I have to use such language with a parent. I explained the situation to my mother and after calming her down, I was finally ready to call Pablo’s mother and inform her of her son’s artistic endeavors. Or so I thought…
When Mrs. Picasso came to the phone, I immediately got very nervous and started whispering into the phone (I made the phone call in the school office. Did I mention that I was speaking Creole? No one, but the parent could understand me!). I began to inform Pablo’s mother of his activities and for some odd reason, she didn’t seem to understand the “PC term” I was using. The best part was that Pablo’s mother did not understand the “PC term” I was using. I made an executive decision and used one of the many vulgar terms I knew for “male private part” (my older brother and cousins would be so proud). Needless to say, Pablo’s mother definitely understood the word “zo-zo” (my older brother and cousins would be so proud)! She immediately started wailing on the phone and telling me that she was going to beat the crap out of him and ship “bounda li Haiti” (Translation: ship his butt to Haiti).
That was quite an unforgettable teaching moment for me. I don’t think I can ever look at Pablo and his mother with a straight face again. My question is…Why in the world was I whispering? No one knew what I was saying, except for Pablo’s mother! It seems that quite a few of my funny encounters with my Haitian parents and students have to do with some sort of “betiz”. However, some of my most favorite moments are shared with my Haitian parents who just can’t seem to understand why I can’t “bay timoun la baton”!
Do you remember your parents giving the teacher permission to deal with you correctly? What was your teacher’s reaction? I’m definitely interested in hearing about some of those moments.