Prickledy and the Warmit


“Prickledy got to wear a regular dress at school because of the warmit,” Alice tells me.

“First,” I say, “I really think her name is Prakriti.”

“NO!” Alice answers, getting frustrated, “her NAME is Prickledy.”

“Okay,” I shift gears, choosing not to fight this battle, “why did she get to wear a dress again?”

“Because of the warmit,” Alice answers, but because she now uses a little bit of a faux British-Indian accent, it sounds like wahm-it.

“Oh,” I say, as it dawns on me, “did she get sick? Do you mean vomit?”

“NO!” Alice answers again.

“I think that is the way your teachers pronounce vomit,” I reply. What we think of as a V sound is often pronounced as a W here.

“Well, it means the same thing,” Alice says, “but it’s NOT the same word.”

This is what happens when two know-it-alls get locked in combat.


This is but one of many things that get confused in conversation.

Like this exchange between William and our favorite friend Shambhu:

William (who loves to cook): “Do you cook?”

Shambhu: “I cook seldom.”

William: “What’s seldom?”

Shambhu: “Seldom is not a food! It is an adverb of frequency!”

Yes, this is how Shambhu talks, and yes, it is just as adorable IRL as it sounds.

The turn of phrase here is one of the things we like best.

I am referred to at work as the Full Bright scholar, which I think is lovely. I’m often told in messages or in person to “do the needful.” In context, it usually means something along the lines of “complete the process”– but I am not sure I’m getting it all the way.

People, upon meeting, often ask us for our “good name,” which we would call our “first” name.

Alice now says something is “paining” her instead of saying she is “in pain.” The children talk about their “learnings” at school.

At about this time last year when we had an interview with their teachers at TRINS, they kept talking about the “potions” they would send us to help the kids prepare for enrollment. We didn’t ultimately take them up on it because we didn’t register for TRINS before we arrived. But in our minds, we imagined a magical box of Harry Potter-esq chemistry supplies.

Much much later we realized they were saying “portions”– which is what we would call “assignments” or maybe “curriculum.”

We have had a wonderful time trying to suss out playground games– which may have different names, but are often recognizable. Here is a sampling.

Teacher Teacher– This is just playing teacher. One (let’s just say it, bossy) kid plays the role of teacher and everyone else falls in line… or else.

Itsy Itsy Spider– This is something that happens at the top of the slide and it involves singing “Itsy- Itsy” spider [not Itsy Bitsy] and then sliding down the slide at the end. I’m always hoping they’ll slide down on the waterspout line, because it seems more fitting, but no one is asking me my opinion on this, to be sure.

Spinner– Classic twisting of the swing until it’s too tight to twist any more, then letting go to the vertigo-inducing spins that only a child can love punctuated with delighted screams.

Catch and catch– This is, as far as I can tell, what we call tag.

Ice and water– As Willy describes it to me, everyone is Water, and one person is Ice. If Ice tags you, you’re Ice, then you can only become Water again if you touch Water.

“Touch water?” I ask, “Like because someone spits on you? How do you touch water?”

“No,” Willy tells me, “just a person that is water touches you.”

Sounds like what we used to call freeze tag.

Tom and Jerry– I am not sure I get this one at all, and I don’t remember any Tom and Jerry based games from my childhood. Willy says that everyone is in pairs, with one Tom and one Jerry. If you are Jerry, you can pass it on to someone else by tagging them. Tom stays the same. But I’m not sure why you need to be in pairs for this one. Or why everyone needs to be a Tom or a Jerry. Please be assured, I asked many questions for clarification, which were met overwhelmingly with rolled eyes and exasperated sighs, so this is the only description of Tom and Jerry that I have for now. What you need to know is: Jerry passes it on, Tom stays the same. It begs the question: who among us, in this great game of life, are Toms and who are Jerrys? We may never know fully.

We are nearing the end of April, which means only two months remain of our time here. We’re already getting the sense that it will be over in a flash.

About a month ago I was asked by the US Consulate to visit the Maldives as a Fulbright Specialist to provide programming on marine debris. The original plan was to meet the ambassador there and hold events with Ministry officials, representatives from NGOs, and industry. We planned to host two cleanup events with school children and volunteers, even traveling from Mále to the far north island of Kulhudhufushi to see their mangroves. The relevant consulate actually covers both Sri Lanka and the Maldives and is based in Colombo. We spent weeks making plans, having Zoom sessions in preparation, and reviewing schedules. After the bombings in Sri Lanka last weekend, we were told it would move forward in a modified version, but by Friday, the plan was scrapped. For a few hours we thought we might continue on with a family trip to the Maldives instead (the flights were all booked, so why not?), but then it was recommended that we not do that either.

The kids were a little disappointed, but Mike and I are relieved in a way. It has been a tough week on a lot of fronts, and a few action packed days of international travel –tropical vistas notwithstanding– can be exhausting in their own right.

Instead, we’ll pack the kids up and go to our local beach Kovalam for a few nights.

While we may wish we were with our extended family this week, a little down time with the kids is the best we can do. It might be just what’s needed right now.


2 thoughts on “Prickledy and the Warmit

  1. I, too, have so many questions. I love that children are children and games are games, no matter where you go. I was thinking perhaps Tom and Jerry arose from British slang in WWI (Tommies being the Brits and Jerries being the Germans)? But that still doesn’t explain why you need pairs and why it’s somehow “catching” to be Jerry… I bet the game existed long before the war and “caught” the name.

    I love that you are called Full Bright, because you are.

    “Seldom is not a food! It is an adverb of frequency!” : I want to meet Shambhu. Sounds like my kind of person.

    I love that your children are adapting so well that Alice is even picking up an accent. What an experience!


    1. Thanks for these comments, Mare– it has been fun. I will have to engage in further investigations regarding the Tom/Jerry thing. :0) And yes, I think you and Shambhu would get along famously.


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