2.27.2009

Whachoo talkin about Danos?


When Yordi was told by a friend the other day to "Go wash your hands in the sink" she replied, "That is not a SINK, that is a BOWL." This friend then looked up at me and jokingly said, "Wow, I'm impressed that she's using complete sentences already, but I think I liked her better when she didn't speak English."

That's when I realized that we were moving away from the "Please excuse my child's actions, things were different in Ethiopia," stage and into the, "My kid just said what?" stage of parenting. Our social 7 year old is becoming a chatty, and quite often sassy 7 year old. I'm doing less interpreting and speaking on the behalf of my children every day. Which means they are saying more of what's on their mind... many times to complete strangers and usually with the social graces of a 7 year old. Habtamu is more likely to go into shy-boy mode and less inclined to blurt, but Yordi is becoming quite comfortable telling people exactly what's on her mind.

Here's a couple recent episodes from Daddy's Head-slap theater:

While enjoying dinner at church the other night, Yordanos stated to the whole table, "Habtamu sleep good, his bedroom is over Mommy and Daddy's. I am scared at night, my bedroom is next to house with loud radio." I know, I know, on the scale of inappropriateness, this is like a 1 out of 10, but it was completely out of left field, and caught me by surprise. It also got us talking about what our unemployed neighbor would possibly be doing while playing loud music late into the night, which really wasn't something neither Chris nor I wanted to speculate on with the church crowd.

Then 24 hours later I'm with the kids in Wal-Mart trying to talk Yordanos into trying on a really cute summer dress, but tragically it's white and purple, not pink, and therefore completely unworthy of her attention. The girl behind the counter in front of the changing rooms heard us going back and forth and commented that she thought the dress would look really good on her. Smart Daddy would have played the 'You can use the changing room if you try on the dress' card but Irritated Shopper Daddy wasn't thinking about how to spin the angles. Anyway, I digress. The girl behind the counter noticed their accents and asked Yordi where she was from. "Ethiopia" she stated, "It's very far. Looooooong airplane," and gave her the NeverEnding Flight interpretive dance. The girl agreed and laughed, then asked how long she and her brother were staying. The question struck a nerve with me only because an African friend back in college once told me that inquiries about how long he was staying were deeply inconsiderate. He felt that they imply an expectation to leave and that you might as well have asked, "When are you finally going to get out of my country?" Yordi's response was sufficiently horrifying.

"My mommy died. My daddy is sick too. So looooong airplane," she stated in an eerily nonchalant, sing-songy voice while continuing her little bored-on-the-airplane dance. "They're adopted!" I choked out trying desperately not to add, "Not abducted!" which surely would have made me sound as defensive and embarrassed as I really was. That was followed by the almost obligatory, "Aww" and "God bless you" which I have yet to find a truly graceful way of accepting. I did my best to not literally run out of there, but we did leave as soon as there was an opportunity.

On a lighter note, I got a little more out of her at bedtime the other night. More than just the usual "I don't know" and "I'm scared."
She said, "I wish I had sister. Same bed then not scaried." Finally something to work with!
"Big sister or little sister?" I asked.
"Little sister," she said.
"Then that would make you the big sister and you'd have to be brave," I giggled.
"Brave what?" she replied.
"Brave." I said, "Not scared." She thought about that for a minute and so I moved on.
"Sleep together like Ethiopia?" I asked.
"Yes. Why America no?" she shot back.
"Well, America is different. We want you to know you're special so we give you your own room and your own bed," I fumbled.
"Rich yes?"
"Well, rich enough that you can have your own bed," I smiled.
"Bed how much?" she asked.
"Yours? Oh, your bed was a gift from the people who thought you were nice before you spoke English. Good night!" I turned off the light and left before I had to explain why I was the funniest guy in the room.

5 comments:

Lisa said...

Kids are quite sincere and can stun you with their honesty. While working at school last week a boy whose class I was in showed me a drawing and I said "you should show that to your mom when you get home!" and he said "my mom died" and walked away. of course, I felt awful and was still looking at him when he turned to find me looking at him with I'm sure a look of unintentional pity and I know he was thinking...yep, whenever I say that they always keep looking at me with 'that look'. :( when he came back around I said "I'm sorry about your mom" and he just shrugged.

Lisa said...

Oh, and God Bless You...just says thanks, He has!!

Anonymous said...

Ok, Lee, in my defense, since I am the one you quoted...incorrectly I might add...lol! I believe my exact words were something more along the lines of, "I think I liked it better when she didn't speak English so WELL!" Now, you may not realze this, but that was an off-handed, HUGE complement! Complete sentences, which I can totally understand, is a huge achievement here in America for kids, whether you come from the US, Ethiopia, or lower Slabovia! I telepathically tried to tell you that I am SO impressed with their language skills and how adeptly they are speaking! Now, next time you quote me, please get the meaning across that you were supposed to osmosically (my own word, thank you) get!

Julie :0)

Windchimes said...

Ok, A: I LOVE that sink! I want a sink like that someday when I grow up...

B: I LOVE your kids! They are both so neat and kind to mine.

C: Thanks for letting them come over (in spurts) yesterday.

D: Anytime you want an 'honorary' sister to sleep over, just ask Noe. She'd think that was the best time ever! Though Kai would be mad... We definitely have to do an overnight kid swap!

Windchimes said...
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