Say What?

“Ms. G, can Tre come sit in the office with you a while?”
I looked up the long hallway toward the four-year-old classroom.  The daycare I worked at had about two hundred kids, and this sort of request wasn’t at all unusual.  I walked back to the room to retrieve Tre.
“So what’s up with Tre?” I asked.
“He fell out,” the teacher stated, frowning down at the little boy.
I gasped.  “He fell out of his chair?  Is he OK?  Did he bump his head?”
The teacher and the child stared at me with matching expressions of confusion.
“Nooo,” she said slowly, giving me a look that clearly indicated she’s thinking I’m the one who’s hit their head.  “He fell out.”
The extra emphasis wasn’t helping.  I still had no idea what had actually happened, and I was too embarrassed to ask again, so I just nodded.
“Anyway,” she continued, “his mama done told him if he falls out again, she gonna tear up his little behind.  So I’m gonna give him a chance to settle.”
“OK, Tre, come on up with me.”  I led the way up to the office at the front of the building, and sat the little boy in the chair next to my desk.
A few minutes later, the center’s director came in and stopped at my desk.
“What’s Tre done?”
I kept my eyes on the report I was working on.  “Don’t know.  His teacher sent him up for a little bit of quiet time.”
“OK, but why?”
I could feel a blush rising up my neck to my cheeks.  “She said he fell out.”
My director looked from me to Tre, who shrugged and tried to look innocent, and then back to me.
“You don’t know what that means, do you,” she stated, putting her hands on her hips and cocking her head to one side.
I shook my head, and my blush intensified when she started laughing.
“It means he had a tantrum,” she said, taking little Tre by the hand.  “I’ll just take him back to his teacher for you.”
“Thanks,” I mumbled, and put my head in my hands when I clearly heard the both of them laughing as they walked down the hall.  
This post is my response to a prompt from Write On Edge to write something on colloquialisms and dialects.  This was not the last time I had to have a phrase explained to me, and it was not the last time my confusion gave my co-workers a great deal of entertainment.  I can’t think of any phrases like that when I was growing up in Wyoming, but after we moved to North Carolina, there were times when I felt like I was trying to learn a new language that sounded like English, but didn’t always mean what I thought it meant.
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18 thoughts on “Say What?

  1. See! That would be a good guess too! I've learned all kinds of new phrases since then – showed out, showed his/her tail, snatch her bald (which I'm thinking only works if the “she” is wearing a weave, but I'm not sure about that).

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  2. That makes me wonder where it came from. I mean, how does a “tantrum” translate to “fell out”? I wonder if it's loosely linked to “a falling out”?

    And I loved this post. Can't wait to share it with my mom. Maybe she's heard the phrase before…

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  3. LOL! Okay I don't know if that's a southern thing or a black thing. I'm both so I knew what it meant. LOL! Didn't know it wasn't common knowledge. I've got tears in the corner of my eyes from laughing. Cute WOE post!

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  4. The first time I was in Kentucky I heard someone talking about a “tar far.” It wasn't until they pointed it out to me that I figured out they were talking about a stack of tires that were on fire. I told them I was just having a little trouble with the accent, and my friends said, “What accent?” LOL

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