Thursday, May 5, 2011


So, I'm doing an after school project with my wife's fourth-graders. We meet in small groups three times a week to collaboratively write non-fiction books. My Thursday afternoon club chose to write about soccer.

One of the kids (who wanted to write about basketball, but got outvoted) is researching and writing about famous soccer players. Today she was very excited to get started because she'd researched and written about three new soccer stars for our book. She read the first two pieces to us, no problem. Then she started the third one, about Brazilian soccer phenom Caca.

The Latino kid in the group starts snickering. I say, "What?"

"You know what that means?"

"Yeah, it means feces in Spanish. But in Brazil they speak Portuguese. It doesn't mean feces there."

"No, that's not what it means."

Okay, now I was stumped. I'm pretty rusty on my Spanish, but I know the curse words cold. I struggled for a moment for a way to talk about it without saying the literal translation. "It means feces, crap." (I hope I don't get my wife in trouble for saying "crap" to her fourth graders.)

"No, it means something way, way worse."

"What?" I asked.

I got nothing but giggles in reply.

"It means what comes out when you do a number 2, right?"

"Yes!" the kid screamed. "It means poo!"

I tried to use the opportunity to explain what "feces" means and the difference between colloquial and scientific terms, but it was hopeless. They'd all dissolved into giggles.