Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A true Lebanese

I do not know much about toddlers; JR is my first. But I do know quite a bit about the Lebanese; my being one of them. They have a deep love for two things; they love to tell you "Bokra," and they love to practice their multilingual skills.

"I will call you; Bokra."
"When will you take me to the movies?" "Bokra."
"When is pay day?" "Bokra."
"When are you coming to visit?" "Bokra."

and so on and so forth; you get the point. But you may be asking what "bokra" means. Well, if you have not yet figured it out from context, or googled it, bokra simply means tomorrow. The Lebanese are known for putting off till tomorrow what they can, or cannot do, today. They do not make promises and they do not say "No." They simply play the time card and put things off, so that when bokra does come there is another one after it, something along the lines of "Waiting for Godot", if you are familiar with the book.

JR being half-Lebanese must have somehow inhereted the "bokra" gene. I really do not have an explanation to her behaviors other than helplessly attributing them to genetics. Now, it might well be a toddler trait, but like I said I am not an expert on toddlers, so I tell myself I have a true Lebanese on my hands. At least if I name it, I can fight it. But alas, it looks like this trait is here to stay.

"Jannah-Rae, it's nap time!" "No, Bokra I sleep."
"Jannah-Rae, are you hungry?" "La2, tomorrow I eat."
"Jannah-Rae, do you want to take a bubble bath?" "La2, I am not dirty, bokra."
"Jannah-Rae, its lotion time!" "No, I put lotion on last Sunday, tomorrow."

and one of my favorites,

"Jannah-Rae, do you want to go to story time (grocery store, get the mail, etc. insert your own)" "La2, bokra I will go!"

And, oh! Did I also mention she speaks like a true Lebanese? If you have not taken notice of the bilingual sentences, please do. They are not a typo. They are actual, real, spoken phrases. Yes, the Lebanese talk like that; we love to accentuate our sentences with words from several languages with French, English and Arabic being our favorite combinations.

If you walk down the streets on Lebanon, pass by cafes or overhear a phone conversation, you are certain to think you have gone mad for not one sentence is completely constructed in one language. Why would one do such a thing? When putting our sentences together, we take the most suitable word from one language and string it with the most appropriate one from another. I remember one time Jeff and I were dining out in Lebanon and I was teaching Jeff to ask for the bill in "Arabic." I told him, tell the waiter, "maitre, please l'7seeb," (waiter, check please). He looked at me like I was from outer space. "Are you serious?" he asked. I sure was! I do not know of any other way to ask for the check at a restaurant in Lebanon than this; a simple three word sentence where every word is from a different country! Now, that's a true Lebanese!

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