Wednesday, April 23, 2008

More Cultural Things

The other day I was with my friend Beth. We were chatting in line and people kept telling me that I was in the wrong line. I knew I was but I was going to chat with Beth and then go to the line I belonged in after we finished talking. Because I am not naturally a super patient and kind person my immediate tendency is to sort of get annoyed with being told I am in the wrong place, sort of a "Duuuh, yeah I know I am in the wrong line - quit bossing me around!" type response. When trying to determine how I ended up being surly, I decided my grandfather might be to blame. Once, when he was robbed at gunpoint and was being yelled at to put money into a paper bag; he told the robbers to put the money in the bag themselves if they wanted it. I come from a long line of people who don't like to be bossed around. Personality flaws passed from generation to generation.

I just nodded politely the first two times and said, "Yep I am just here to talk to my friend then I will move." On the third time someone told me I must have looked annoyed, Beth said, "Isn't it nice how everyone is looking out for you to tell you where the correct line is for your ticket?" It struck me that I am usually bugged first -- rather than just rolling with it and assuming it is a kind gesture. I liked the way Beth guessed they were helping rather than bossing. Not a bad idea at all. When I get all grow up, I think I will try to act like that.

The other way I have received lots of "help" is in the area of baby-rearing. Besides the socks on baby rule and the warm clothing rule (even when it is a bazillion degrees accompanied by smothering humidity) -- there is also no shortage of ti-blan grangou (hungry baby) experts around.

Apparently Certified Lactation Consultants ABOUND in this land. ;) I have been amazed how many people will tell me WHY Lydia is crying when I am out in public. The common advice I get: "Bebe vle tete." Which literally means, baby wants breast. The larger issue is that then they stand watching and waiting to see if I am indeed going to quiet the baby- right there on the spot. The week I spent in the hospital it became apparent to me that I better get over my need to nurse privately ... what with 32 different lab people, nurses, & cleaning people of both sexes coming in and out all day.

But every time someone says tete to me, the 12 year old in me comes out and I get all squirrely when they use that word. Very mature, I know.

I have never told another mom in Target that had a crying baby -- "Yeah, your baby wants to eat lady. Offer the kid a breast would you?" Not planning on it anytime soon either. I have heard from Haitian ladies and gents that Lydie wants to eat no less than 20 times in recent months -- which does not mean I don't giggle at their word for breast - but it does mean that I now realize that people mean well and are just offering trying to help.