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Wait, chile…

Wait, chile…

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When I was a child, the elders around whom I had the blessing to share this earth would issue sayings and idioms they found relevant to whatever situation that they were in.

One favourite that both irked and piqued my curiosity was the one about the sow and her piglets. As it goes, one piglet asked the mother why her snout was so long and the mother replies “Wait, chile, you ah come; you go know.” The implication, of course, is that the piglet is too inexperienced to understand how the vagaries of life (and genetics) can bring his mother to have a long snout. The question may be innocent enough, but the answer is not as straightforward.

Of the many adages that I have heard, this is the one that annoyed me the most. I felt, as a child, condescended to and excluded. I wanted to know what exactly they meant, but would be greeted with wry laughter instead. Usually after saying this, perhaps in response to what may have been some cheeky statement, the elders in question would laugh to themselves, secure in a wisdom common to only them.

Recently, I have been reflecting on these moments, partly because I am approaching another “zero” age wise and because I am now living on street Parenthood myself. I think about the ways in which these sayings make sense and the various contexts to which they could be applied.

Slim young chick mocks an older lady with a midsection? “Wait, chile, you ah come; you go know.”

Little boy doesn’t understand why his parents treat their credit union savings like a bill? “Wait, chile, you ah come; you go know.”

Young woman scorns women who stay married to unfaithful husbands? “Wait, chile, you ah come; you go know.”

See? It can be applied to all sorts of scenarios.

Lately, I am beginning to appreciate how much truth is carried in these sayings and idioms. I see how much weight goes into decisions that affect the household. I see how much my own needs become secondary and how much satisfaction is derived from a “thank you” and a face lighting up with appreciation and laughter. I am also beginning to appreciate how contemplating some decisions can bring extra creases to the forehead and the corners of my mouth or the proverbial “snout”. I say partially, because this a journey after all and as I approach other zeros, I suspect that I will come to know a little more.

Through all of this I am reminded of Lorna Goodison’s poem: “I am becoming my mother,” where she describes her mother’s habits and features, how her mother’s hands were always smelling of onions and how now her own hands are smelling like onions. Growing up can do that to you.

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