Lub is Poreber

April 23, 2017
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Parent-teacher conferences used to be one of the most dreaded days in my household. Not for my parents, more so my little sister and I. I wasn’t always aware of my parents’ accents when I was younger. It was until Italian Ice Day last year when all the moms came to volunteer did I realize my mom spoke differently. Mama was handling the cotton candy tub and of course nine year olds are all over that. What’s wrong with lemon?
Becky Johnson is one of those girls. She’s in Girl Scouts, her mom is the PTA president and she just happens to love cotton candy. After everyone got their cups we were allowed to sit at the picnic tables by the playground. I sat with my best friend Kimmy. Her daddy, my Tito Gary, works with my daddy at the Post Office. We were minding our own business until Becky Johnson walked up to our table, cotton candy ice in hand and a smug grin gracing her porcelain skin.
Your mom speaks funny, she says.
She doesn’t! I huff.
She messes up her f’s and v’s like a baby! She laughs.
By then I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. Who was this girl making fun of my mama? Until then I had never encountered bullying. I didn’t like it at all. I didn’t like how small Becky Johnson made me feel, how direct her words hit me. I ran away and hid in the tube slide for the entirety of the day. I cried for what felt like hours, I couldn’t believe I didn’t run out of tears, and I definitely couldn’t believe I didn’t get to finish my lemon ice.
When it came time to come back inside, I heard my mama calling me. Moms must have a radar for their children, because Mama knew exactly where I was.
What’s wrong anak? She asks me.
Becky Johnson said you talk funny and said you speak like a baby! I wail.
Mama smiles and laughs the kind of laugh you feel in your tummy, the laugh you laugh when you know everything is going to be okay.
What does she know? Her mom is weird too, she beliebes she’s a natural blonde, Mama laughs. Lahat ng gubat ay may ahas anak, Mama says.
It means “in every forest, there is a snake.”
I laugh too, not because Mama is making fun of Becky Johnson’s mom, but because her crazy sayings never make any sense. She takes me into a hug and it’s one of those hugs only a Mama can give, the ones that make you feel warm even on the coldest of days. We walk back to school, our conjoined hands swinging back and forth. We pass by a flyer about parent-teacher conferences next week. I’m not that nervous about it anymore. I didn’t get to finish my lemon ice. But that’s okay, I hab until foreber to eat it again.

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