‘Mama, estas chiflao’ Conrad said to me with the air of parental exasperation. ‘yes, yes chiflao’ I laughed patronisingly, looking down at my pretty blonde boy, wondering about my rash decision to order the foal steak. We were eating Sunday lunch in one of the 3 restaurants in the village, my husband had taken the youngest to see the life-size pottery pig that sits outside the toilet door for the 4th time since we arrived and the eldest was comforting himself by bringing as much attention to our table as possible. ‘que si, chiflao’ he repeated authoritatively. Silence fell between us and people started to look away. I braced myself and cut into the steak, pushing the words, ‘but it’s a baby horse for the love of god’ down with the first taste of my food. ‘Potru’ is not something I’ll be eating again, it has a sweet taste, too delicate for its dark beefy appearance and besides which, it’s a baby horse for the love of god.
It’s all well and good living in a foreign country, giving your children the unquestionable leg up of being bilingual. But it’s a bugger when they start, at the age of 4, to use that to their advantage. ‘chiflao’ I have since discovered means ‘ mad’ and not mad in a wacky good way, but insane, loony, stupid, duh.’