The horrible, humorous tale of how I unwittingly told a small child to “shut up,” in his native language

Yes, I did this.  I feel like an awful person, even as I feel like laughing.

On Saturday morning, I was driving my 11 year old and his buddy to skateboarding, as usual, when I asked the buddy (whose native language is Spanish), “How do you say ‘Be quiet’ in Spanish?”

The friend, who is a lovely, sweet boy, said, “Callate.”

So on Tuesday, I told my nonstop chatterbox, “Callate.”  I said it more than once, although I usually added “por favor,” and he did quiet down, right away, each time.

Then last night I was reading a YA novel with some rough teens in it, and a few of them were saying “Callate” to each other, and I started to think…..Hmmm, this sounds rude.  What does this word actually mean?

So I looked it up, and yelled, “ARGH!””

My husband called from the other room, “What’s wrong?”

“I just told _____ to shut up!  Several times!  I had no idea that’s what it means!!!”

When ______ arrived at school, his older sister was with him.  She speaks English beautifully, so I told her the whole sad, embarrassing, ridiculous tale.  I could tell she was trying not to laugh.  She did, however, at my request, apologize to her brother on my behalf.

Then, before she left for class, I asked, “How DO you say be quiet in Spanish, politely?”

“Silencio, por favor.”

Phew.  Now I know.

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3 thoughts on “The horrible, humorous tale of how I unwittingly told a small child to “shut up,” in his native language

  1. That’s okay, a few years ago the king of Spain told Hugo Chavez to shut up during the Iberamerican Summit. While it wasn’t exactly protocol, it did make him somewhat of a folk hero for awhile (at least in some places…)

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