Schups…..the sound EVERY child with a West Indian mother (in particular), has heard at least a million times in their life; this is usually followed up by a threat of some sort. This week on the blog, we thought we’d explore the hilarity of growing up Caribbean. It should be stated that these are “generalizations” (don’t hate the player- hate the game) and from our own experiences growing up with a Grenadian mother. Neither one of us have ever been to Grenada (ignoring the fact that R1 was born there), let alone the Caribbean, so it should be said that our references are merely through our mother’s experiences…so don’t hate.
“You have to play dead to see what funeral you’re going to get.”
1- Flat out Threats: “I brought you into this world, I can take you out“, “Catch yourself” or “Don’t make me come over there“, O-M-G, if your West Indian mother hasn’t thrown some threats or just being fully cussed out growing up, then I don’t even know what to say! I think we hear a threat from our mother at least once a day! Most of them provide endless hours of laughter and entertainment, because they’re open threats with no actual follow through, but with emphasis enough to put fear in you!!
2- Old Wives Tales: “Don’t expose your stomach in cold weather” or “Don’t take a shower and go out right away“; if we had a dollar for every time our mother justified her opinion with a random old wive’s tale, we would be legit R-I-C-H!! There are so many bizarre sayings and tales, and the funnier part is that when asked, we normal do not know the actually source of them.
3- Random Sayings: “Go to bed and shut your legs“, I’m not sure about other cultures, but in my opinion, Caribbeans have some of the most random and equally hilarious sayings and quotes we have EVER had the pleasure of hearing and even if you “translate” them, they still make ZERO sense. We cannot count the number of times we have burst out laughing at some of the strange things to leave our mother’s mouth. We’ve dotted a few around the blog, enjoy!
–Doltish- Translation: Stupid
–Cheese on bread!- Translation: Wow!
–I need to pee!-Translation: LMAO
– Hold me!– Translation: You’re too much
-Wee-Translation: Oui, which comes from Yes
4- Partay!: If you don’t know, you’re going to know! Caribbeans live for a partyyyy! It doesn’t have to be fancy, as long as someone brings the food, drinks and music! Even a funeral isn’t exempted from turning it up! Our mother has recounted many stories of once the formalities were out of the way, the funeral services turning into a giant mashup, so epic that strangers who didn’t even know the deceased show up to enjoy and partake in the party atmosphere. That is something I’m not sure I’d have the courage to do myself, but like our mother always says, “Grenadians don’t care…a party is a party.”
5-Updating the House for Every Holiday: Whether it’s changing the bed sheets on ALL of the beds in the house, the bathroom carpets and towels or tablecloths. Nothing gets the house ready for any holiday like a massive spruce up, which meant that EVERY member of the family has to get involved. Bedding, dishes, laundry, even clothes- all need dusting off and ironing- ready for the big day!
6- Personal Hairdresser: A massive perk of growing up with a West Indian mother, in particular is having a personal hairdresser and stylist. Downside? It comes with some violence and pain, literally in the neck and head. You don’t get to choose how the hair on your head will look, but you can guarantee that the hair WILL last the week or two, but if your mom was feeling generous maybe you get to choose the accessories!
7- Fake Fruits: Maybe it’s in the manual, but I don’t think we have ever been to a West Indian house without some form of plastic/fake fruit being on display in the house-whether in a bowl or as magnets on the fridge. They could be on to something though, as they will always look fresh and never go moldy, unlike the uneaten strawberries currently in my fridge, so we shouldn’t knock it too hard.
8- Suspicious Decor: Beaded curtains, plastic protectors on the furniture, crocheted doilies on the tables and a house full of pictures of maps of the Caribbean, to pictures of their home country. Our mom’s house is scattered with various reminders of the Caribbean, it’s a cute way for her to keep connected with her homeland, and all in all-there’s no harm in that.
9-FOOD!: Jerk chicken, oil down, patties, currys, saltfish…the list can go on; no legitimate West Indian get together is worth their salt if there isn’t food involved and we mean FOOD! It’s actually considered ill mannered if you show up at someone’s without food and equally rude if you don’t eat food being offered someone’s house. We’re aware that many cultures and events happen around food, but it feels like for Caribbean folk, you go for the food!
10-Superstitions: Ghosts, death, black cats, hats on table, and opening an umbrella in the HOUSE! O-M-G I have NEVER fully understood this one. Our mother has always told us to never open an umbrella in the house, because of the bad luck it could bring, I have yet to experience the bad luck it is supposed to emit, but yolo.
“You play doltish, what you can’t carry, you’ll drag.”
Do you have Caribbean friends and or family, what are some of the funny sayings you’ve heard? Let us know!
Painting by: Nigerian Painter, Kehinde Oso