In our community, we have some very special ways of expressing ourselves. Growing up, you probably have rolled your eyes at your elders on more than one of these occasions we are calling “you know you are Caribbean when…”:
1. Labels on a container don’t mean anything
Have you ever seen a container of your favorite snack on a shelf and ran over to open it, only to find none other than sewing materials inside? Ever thought you hit the jackpot by finding that last bit of butter you needed in the fridge but, surprise, it’s some type of curried meat? Congratulations! You are a chosen one. You are Caribbean.
2. The family is always growing
One may think a growing family is only due to newborns, but a true Caribbean knows not to exclude the fully grown from this equation. How many times has someone brought around a new aunt or uncle for you to meet that you have never seen before in your life? You probably have run out of fingers. It becomes second nature to accept the new addition, give a big hug like your life depended on it and make that person feel loved. It is something we all should cherish about our upbringing, no matter how random it tends to be, because we love hard and we extend it to all of those in need without ever thinking twice.
3. You have perfected the art of stealing from the pot without making a sound
The best meals always take the longest time to cook. Don’t they? We all have that one story of trying to steal from the pot before dinner was “ready” and getting caught, some might have the scars to go along with the tale. It is always at the last second, those last couple of inches before you get the lid fully closed, that the sweat from your hand or gravity or (in our caretaker’s minds) the evil spirits turn on us and cause a commotion. Then comes the “what was that?!”. All of a sudden, the person who was just so tired that they couldn’t move turns into a track star and ends up right behind you before you can take your next blink. Now you have a hot piece of something burning the roof of your mouth all because you just wanted a little taste. Was it worth it? 100%, yes. Every time.
4. We are a group of exaggerators
Have you ever tried to get instructions, whether directions to a destination or a literal “how-to” from someone who made it sound so much easier or harder than it really is?
- A destination 35 minutes away is “just up the street”
- An intricate puzzle can be solved in “two steps” when it actually takes 40
BUT THEN… when things are simple to grasp the person explains it like it would take so much from you if you pursued it. Moral of the story, nothing is ever to be taken literal.
5. We are very in tune with our “spirit”
We all have that one family member, or this one actually could be you, who uses the fact that their spirit guided them as a response for everything.
- “You don’t like so and so? Why?”
- “My spirit can’t take them”
- “Why don’t you want to come with us”
- “My spirit can’t bother”
As we grow, we realize that that “spirit” is our intuition (our gut feeling) and then it all starts to make sense. It just sounds silly.
What is something not mentioned that only growing up Caribbean would help you understand? Though the nostalgia might have put you in a mood, have you ever caught yourself doing any of the things listed above?
Like they say, you can take the man out of the place, but you can’t take the place out of man.