Tuesday, 19 August 2014

My mama did not go to school!

   Two years ago I was at my daughters school to pick her up and something happened that I never forgot and probably never will. She was four years old at that time and little did I know what she thought of me.
   Outside the school, one of her friends mother approached me and began speaking to me very fast in Portuguese about the ballet school which my daughter and hers attended. Being that I was born and raise in Africa and at that time had lived only 3 years in Portugal, my Portuguese was really bad and well, not so much has improved since then lol! I didn't have much clue what the woman was talking about but as usual, I put on a serious face nodding my head as the woman spoke, smiling when she smiled and laughing when she did and all the while trying to pick out a few words I could piece together to get a clue as to what she was talking about.
   My adorable daughter whom was playing with her friend as the woman rambled on in Portuguese quickly stopped and came to stand beside me looking from me to the woman as she bit her nails. After carefully observing the one-sided conversation, she turned to me knowingly and said slowly in Portuguese, almost as if she were talking to a child much younger than herself. "Mama you don't understand what she is saying. Do you?"
   I flashed her an unamused smile and replied in English. "Be quiet." My voice was gentle but firm. Too late as the woman had obviously heard my daughter for she stopped, her eyes travelling from my daughter to me almost accusingly. 
   "Madam,' my daughter said in Portuguese breaking the uncomfortable silence, 'you must speak slowly and demonstrate with your hands. My mother did not go to school. She does not understand what you are saying." That was easy for me to understand because she spoke slowly dragging her words and demonstrating with her little hands in an attempt to teach the woman how to speak to me. My mouth quickly dried up and embarrassment registered all over my face as I tried but failed to find the words to explain to the woman that I had gone to school...even the university for that matter.
   Too late for I could tell by the apologetic look the woman now gave me that she had totally believed my daughter. "I am sorry." She said in Portuguese almost counting her words as my daughter had suggested she did and she rambled something quickly in Portuguese, gave my daughter a small kiss on one cheek and walked away with her daughter.
   My fury and embarrassment was suddenly replaced with amusement as I looked down at my little girl whom was smiling at me with eyes of accomplishment like she had helped me out or something. 
   Reaching home, I narrated the story to my husband whom lovingly explained to my daughter that her mother "had gone to school" using herself as an example, he asked her. "Do you speak very good English?" She shook her head and he went on to explain to her that just because she didn't speak very good English did not mean she is illiterate because at school she is taught in Portuguese. And just when I began smiling, happy and relieved that she had understood, came another blast! "But if she went to school then why can't she drive?"
   My husband and I burst out laughing. "My dear,' he said as he gently rubbed her chin, 'your mama used to drive in Africa. The reason she does not drive here is because she needs a drivers license and she needs to write an exam in Portuguese in order to obtain a drivers license. In Africa it was easy because the test was in English."
   Her face lit up as the "a-ha" moment sank in!
   Till this day, I still look back and laugh. There is nothing more beautiful than the innocence of a child.
Have you ever had similar experience with your children?