Thursday, February 21, 2008

How ya bean?

I work with children which means that you have to be prepared for anything.
Like today when a three-year-old boy was jumping around with his head bent to the side.
“Jun, this is not a time for jumping. We are having quiet time,” I said.
“But I have to get the bean out!” was his reply.
“What bean?” I asked.
“The one in my ear,” he said.

I look in his ear and, sure enough, there is an uncooked kidney bean shoved inside. I had qualms about trying to get the bean out because I feared pushing it in further. My boss and I decided to call his mother to remove the ear-bean.

Now, Jun’s family is from Korea. His father speaks English fairly well but his mother speaks only a few words. We once had to call her because Jun fell down and hit his head and required a doctor. After unsuccessfully trying to convey this message, we reduced the conversation to caveman talk: “You come. Jun head. Hospital now.”

This is how our conversation went today:
“I’m calling because Jun has put a bean in his ear and we can’t get it out. We’ll need someone to come remove the bean or take him to a doctor.”

“Bean? Korean. Jun? What is bean? Korean.”

“Yes. A bean in his ear. It is stuck.”


“We need you to come to school and get Jun.”

This continues for a few minutes, neither of us understanding the other.

And, finally, “You come. Help Jun. Ear owie. Bean stuck.”

It worked. I feel bad talking to her like that. I know she’s an intelligent woman and I’m no idiot myself but we have to communicate through two-word sentences and gestures. Maybe I should learn a few phrases in Korean, Chinese, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, and Japanese so I can talk to all the parents in their native tongue.

If anyone knows any of those languages, please translate the following sentences for me.
“Welcome to school.”
“I need you to come to the school.”
“Have a good day.”


Corrine said...

if i ever need to be cheered up... I will read your blogs!! i love ya kimmy!!

Alisca said...

If we ever figure out where Lily is from, you can use her technique of communication for some of the parents (staring at them like you have no idea what's going on). Otherwise, I can't help you with the language. I know Peruvian slang, but that's all I got for ya!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.