Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sounds the same, but…

Since we are constantly surrounded by language barriers we often find ourselves repeating parts of conversations over and over again.

“Is this Rachel’s first time here?” asked the receptionist/nurse at the doctor’s office.


“So she’s been here before then?”

“Yes. She’s been here before.”

“No!” Rachel interjected, “I’m just two! Only this many, see?”

She showed us her two fingers and asked, “Why did that lady think I was four? Why did you say I was four? I’m not. I’m just two. But soon I will be five! Then I will go to school, after I am five.”

We had to repeat the part about whether or not Rachel had been to the clinic to make sure that we had adequately communicated across the Arabic/English barrier and then had to repeat the part about “before” in order to cross the Rachel/English barrier.

“Of course you’re two, yes, yes. And next you’ll be three. Before means that you did something once already. She wasn’t actually saying you’re four.”

“No, ‘cuz I’m just only two.”

“Yes. You’re just two.”

“Yup! But I’m ‘coming old man!”

“You’re becoming an old man?”


“Kinda, sure. You’re growing up.”

We were going over opposites at lunch, due to accidentally confusing Rachel, who was eavesdropping on our conversation.

“So, the gas guy came while you were gone,” Andrew told me.

“Oh, yeah?”

“Yeah. He can never remember where the kitchen is. It’s so funny. I told him that it was to the right but he walked straight over to Rachel’s bedroom, anyway, then looked at me like I was crazy. So I pointed to the kitchen and he was like, ‘Oh, the other right,’ and went into the kitchen.”

“That’s wrong!” said Rachel, “Because my room is not the kitchen. So it is not the right. It’s the wrong.”

“Well, yes. But the man just got his left and right confused.”

“He got his right and wrong confused. He didn’t mean to go at my bedroom! That’s not right. That’s wrong.”

“No, he didn’t. Hey, what’s the opposite of right?”


“Or wrong. Or…left.”

“Wrong means left?”

“No…left means the opposite of right, the direction right. Wrong, or bad, is the opposite of right, the good kind of right.”

She tried to change the topic since this one was getting a little too intense for her.

“What pounds this weighs?” she asked, pointing to the jar of honey.

“How much does it weigh?” Andrew clarified, “I don’t know, but it’s not very heavy. It’s light.”

“Yeah. It’s not dark.”

“Hmmmm…light is the opposite of dark, but it’s also the opposite of heavy and it doesn’t mean the same thing. Light can mean something doesn’t weigh very much.”

Then Andrew began quizzing her, “So what’s the opposite of dark?”


“And what’s the opposite of heavy?”


“And what’s the opposite of wrong?”


“And what’s the opposite of left?”


“Or stayed,” I offered, mischievously.

Rachel just looked at me, rolled her eyes, and took a big bite of her sandwich. I translated that as “Can this be over now?”

Yesterday we made a calendar for January and talked about dates. Rachel asked me to sing the days of the week song. It’s really easy—you probably already know all the words—we sing it to the tune of the Aadam’s Family theme song. It goes like this:

Days of the week! *snap, snap*
Days of the week! *snap, snap*
Days of the week, days of the week, days of the week! *snap, snap*
There’s Sunday and there’s Monday. There’s Tuesday and there’s Wednesday. There’s Thursday and there’s Friday and even Saturday!
Days of the week! *snap, snap*
Days of the week! *snap, snap*
Days of the week, days of the week, days of the week! *snap, snap*

Rachel usually claps her hands or bangs something since she can’t snap yet. It’s her favorite part of the whole song. She also says “daisy week.” I know this because when I said that yesterday was Tuesday she said, “What daisy will it be tomorrow?”

It doesn’t help matters that she has a friend named Tuesday.

During one round of singing this song, this is what Rachel sang,

“There’s Sunday and there’s Monday! There’s Tuesday and there’s…Rachel!”

She thought that since we were singing Tuesday’s name she should also get to have her name sung. Unfortunately Rachel isn’t the name of a week. Or a month.

Rachel also has a friend named August. We were flipping through last year’s calendar talking about the months and what happens in each of the months. My birthday is in June. Hers is in July. Daddy’s is in September, Miriam’s is in October.

Talking about birthdays got us talking about getting older again—or ‘coming old man’ as Rachel likes to say.

“What happens when I am five?” asked Rachel.

“I don’t know. What will happen?” I asked her back.

“I will go at school when I am five!” she said happily.

“What happens when I am eight?” she asked.

“What?” I asked.

“I will get baptized!”

“That’s right.”

“Mommy, when did you get baptized?” she asked.

“When I turned eight.”

“No. What month?”

“Oh, I got baptized in July.”

“But Yuly is my birthday! Dune is yours! You should get baptized in Dune, not Yuly!”

“Well, I got baptized in July, so there isn’t anything we can do about it now.”

“When will I get baptized?”

“When you’re eight.”

“But what month?”

“Probably in July, but maybe in August. It depends.”

“I don’t want August. I want Yuly! August is a boy’s month!”

I didn’t understand why until we met some friends at the playground today and she pointed to August and said, “See, a boy’s month!”

So many things sound the same but mean something completely different. And I think confusing those things is absolutely hilarious!


  1. Nancy, that is SO funny. I had a grin on my face the entire post. I could see how having friends named Tuesday and August could get very confusing for a 2-year-old. haha.

  2. Hahahaha. Lizzy read this before me even and said I should read it. Poor Rachel.

  3. These conversations crack me up!!! I love it.

  4. Kathleen gets confused about Tuesday, too. Maybe she should just go by 'Tues' until all of her friends are old enough to differentiate.