Speaking in Tongues

If you listen your kids will tell you what they really think.
One of mine told me this: "The babysitter is starting to talk on the phone while driving."
I paused a minute, remembering her calling me the minute she picked them up from school this past Friday. I was out of town on a Femme Fantastik Adventure.
"Are you sure she wasn't talking to me? " I said.
She cocked her head to the side and then answered. "No, she wasn't."
"How do you know?"
"I just know Mom. She was talking black."
Now what does she mean by that? Am I not black?

I said, "Really? How does one do that?"
She grinned. "You know what I mean, mom. The tone in your voice,Like when you talk to (Daddy's Mom) Grandma."

Now what does she mean by that?

"How do I talk to Grandma?"
"You know mom, Like when you and her say things like "That girl ain't got no money". Like that."
"I see. So how do I talk otherwise?"
"Just like that. Like now."
I didn't say anything, figuiring there was more, and I was right.
"While at camp this summer, we all were trying to talk black. I was good at it."
"But, sweetie, weren't you all black?" I knew the answer. I'd sent the girl clear cross the country to make sure they were.
"You don't get it. It's like music. You don't have to be black to make black music. Just because you are black doesn't mean you talk black. I speak a lot or languages. I speak english."

"Uh huh."
"--And spanish. and Pig Latin. And Black. It must be hard for you, mom, how did you learn it?"
Thank goodness she's nine, she just kept going. Was she saying I'm not black because (most of the time) I enunciate? I wanted to scream, Slow your roll, little girl, language has no color, but she kept right on.

"I was telling them at camp that there was a difference between talking black and talking country."
"Is there? Do tell."
"Don't hate! You bes' be on your way. Now that's black."
"Uh huh."
"And country? How does that sound?"
"Country. That's like when you say, I'm fixin' to stomp all ovah yo liva if you don't back up out my face."
My mouth fell open. Did I mention she's nine? Suburban nine? What's all this talk about stomping and livers?
Our car ride was over. She opened the door, jumped down and told her little sister, "You bes' back up out my way."
I snatched her by the arm. "It would behoove you to conjugate your verbs and watch how you speak to your sister or I will have to reach my finger down your throat, grab on to your butthole and yank you inside out."
Her eyes got big and her face flushed. "Mom!"
"Well, was that black enough for you? It just so happens that you are not the only mutli-lingual one in this household."
Sho' you right.


Anonymous said…
lawd have mercy...ya'll be trippin' in the 'burbs of south texas. i guess you and lil mami will venture into spanglish and blaxican/reggeaton as she experiences the ever blending america....nah-mean?!
Anonymous said…
It really is amazing how much young minds do absorb and analyze, even when we are unaware that they are observing us.
Kris said…
I'm with Still... all I can say is Wow. This coming from the woman who is still told be adults that I speak "white".


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