Vaporoo

Sickness has struck once again.  It started with C-girl sniffling, and from there everyone else started sniffling as well.  The other morning F-girl was standing in her crib, waiting to be picked up.  I went to get her and saw that her entire face from the nose down was one big gooey, green, slimy mess!  Poor baby.  She had a whole day of that but then seemed better the next day.  I made a Shot of Death for everyone (by their request!) and gave some to her as well – without the cayenne pepper.  She loved it!  The lemon and garlic must have done well for her though, because she was back to her normal self within two days.

Anyway, B-boy was starting to feel the effects of the sickness in his sinuses, and wanted something to help him breathe a little easier.  My husband was the one in the room, and B-boy asked him, “Do you have some vaporoo?”  Huh?  My hubby was a little confused, and asked B-boy to repeat himself.  He said the same thing again.  “Do you have any vaporoo, like to put on my nose?”

I guess it’s a good thing he was speaking to my hubby, because I would never have clued into what he was asking for.  As he described that he wanted to put it on his nose to help him breathe better, and maybe his chest too, it suddenly clicked in my hubby’s brain.  He was asking for Vicks Vapor Rub!  For those of you with Spanish backgrounds, you might have had experience with this.  If you pronounce “vapor rub” with a Spanish accent (and almost drop the final b sound) it will sound like “vaporoo.”

My hubby shared this with me, and I had to laugh.  Vaporoo?  Just then, my brother-in-law walked through the room.  “Hey, what’s vaporoo?” I asked.  He immediately replied without even blinking an eye, “It’s that stuff you rub on your chest and nose when you’re sick.”

“What????  You know what that is?  Hahahah…Oh my goodness, I can’t believe this!  The fact that you even know what I’m talking about is either hilarious or terrible – I’m not sure which!”  He looked at me like I was crazy.  We made sure he knew what the correct pronunciation was, and to his credit he knew the real version as well as the Spanglish one.

Humor is good medicine, and I needed a good laugh.  Hopefully it could brighten your day too!

Speaking of Spanglish, (the term used to describe using both Spanish and English simultaneously, usually because you don’t know one fluently and so fill in the blanks with your first language), we have had a very interesting time here with two languages going on.  E-girl of course only knew Spanish when she came, and here are a few of the phrases I heard the most 8-10 months ago as she gradually increased her knowledge of English.

  • When asking if I could open the door: No, porque no I changing me. (No, because I’m changing.)
  • You puedo turn on la light for me? (Can you turn the light on for me?)
  • First eat, y luego sleep! (First eat, and then sleep!)
  • And right after her doctor visit: You look como un doctor, porque you check’n me!  (You look like/ are like a doctor because you’re checking me).

The sad reality now is that these children speak much better English than Spanish.  Obviously I want them to speak English well (D-boy is still working on the “well” part, but his Spanish is even worse).  I also want them to speak Spanish well.  Not only is it the only language they use to communicate with their biological mother, but it is part of their culture, family, and heritage.  It is also an invaluable tool and resource to have throughout life and in landing a job.  The problem is that they’ve been losing the Spanish while their English is (hopefully) getting better.

We have actually implemented “Spanish Days” at our house on a regular basis.  Nobody is allowed to speak anything but Spanish all day long.  The person this is hardest for is E-girl.  Isn’t that crazy?  The one who could only speak Spanish now can’t even think in that language.  These days are very good for the children, and for me too.  I do admit, though, that it is easy to get off track and start speaking English.  I’m usually the one who derails everything too, since my vocabulary is limited and when I need to say something I just say it – in English.

Here’s how bad these children’s Spanish has gotten, though.  Back when C-girl and D-boy were getting ready to have their party this summer, C-girl wanted to call and invite a friend from school – a girl who had just come to this country and still only spoke Spanish.  She got on the phone.  I stood very close, because these children’s phone etiquette leaves MUCH to be desired.  I think I literally saw D-boy nodding his head instead of saying “yes” when he called his friend!  So anyway, C-girl is on the phone, giving her friend the run-down, telling her to bring her swimsuit, her… “How do you say ‘towel’ in Spanish?” Her question made me look at her questioningly.  Here’s the craziest part – I knew what to tell her!  After she got off the phone, I gave her a bit of a hard time (all in good humor of course).  “Honey, what’s up with the Spanish girl asking the White girl how to say ‘towel’ in Spanish?  Huh?”  She only giggled, and we continued with our day.  Sadly though, this exact incident has been repeated multiple times by all but A-girl and F-girl, and while it’s sad for them it’s a boost for me since about 80% of the time I’ve actually known the answer to their question!  So yay for me.  And some more “Spanish Days” are definitely in order in this house!

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Instant Mama refers to the speed at which I became a mama – from our first serious consideration of becoming foster parents to having six children in our home, the process took less than three months!  If you’d like more background, be sure to read How it all Began.  You can also sign up on the home page to receive new posts via email, or if you would like to contact me privately you may do so at my gmail.com account, user name instantmama.

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One Comment on “Vaporoo”


  1. [...] do you say vapor rub in spanish” or some other variation that landed them on the post, “Vaporoo.” I seriously did not realize how widely used this term or “mispronunciation” is [...]


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