How often do you think about how you can change someone’s life with just one sentence? We all know it is true. I have never given it a great deal of consideration, though it crosses my mind when I hear about bullying and in trying to do right by people.
So much to my surprise I realize may have changed the life of one little girl, and possibly not for the better. Have you ever heard people talk about living up to a nick name or trying to overcome one. On one particularly hot day in Bercy, I journeyed across the village on foot paths through the gardens and pucker brush with Geurline and Marlynn. Geurline’s mothers house is our destination… Edens is working next door on his sister-in-laws house. We sit and chat together Geurline’s sisters and her mum and I. One of the pleasures of visiting Geurline’s family is their lack of English… giving me another opportunity to work on my Creole. You see my Haitian friends that speak English like to practice their English with me… rather than helping me practice my Creole! The children played around us as we talked… The youngest trying to walk but spending most of her time crawling from person to person. Geurline and her sisters set up a table and out came the dominoes. We huddled around the low table on an assortment of chairs and began to play. And that is when it happened… the littlest child decided she needed to become involved! At her third attempt to grab our dominoes off the table I said the words that could change her life, “ou ti pwoblem!”, translation you’re a little problem. Soon enough everyone was calling her ti pwoblem… she even began to respond to it. Later in the afternoon when I was having my hair braided, and little miss ti pwoblem had finished nursing… We encouraged her to dance! She is a wonderful dancer… Shaking her little hinny back and forth. To get her to dance everyone would say “danse ti pwoblem, danse!”. When she started to get into things again I said ti pwoblem ou gro pwoblem! Translation a big problem. And then I jokingly said… she will never get married no one will want to marry a woman named ti pwoblem! A week later at the wedding of ti pwoblem’s aunt, I saw the family again and they were still calling her ti pwoblem! What have I done by jokingly calling this beautiful little girl ti pwoblem? Will she be teased for this? Will she grow up trying to live up to her name or not live up to it? Maybe she will be proud of the nick name because I gave it to her. Part of me hopes it blows away like dust in the wind… But I don’t think it will.