Grandparents, the world over, bring a special touch to our lives. For many Jamaicans, this means fond memories of time spent somewhere in the country during Easter or summer holidays. Some of us were well-behaved children and others made the lives of grandparents interesting—to say the least. One thing is sure, our elders had plenty of wisdom to impart and those of us who were mischievous as children would have heard one or more of these saying from our grandparents.
Chicken merry hawk deh near. Way back when, the summer months were a time when families would send their young to the country to spend time with their grannies. From dusk to dawn, each day was filled with fun and games—some of which could be dangerous. When things got boisterous, this warning meant that the children should be careful since danger could come suddenly.
Chip never fly far from block. If you modelled your parents’ behavior, you would have heard this saying many times. Being told you looked like or behaved the same as your parent/s could be a blessing or a curse.
Hard ears pickney nyam rockstone. Children who had a streak of stubbornness heard this one all the time. It meant that if you refused to listen to advice given by an adult and were disobedient, you’d learn things the hard way.
Spare the rod and spoil the child. Grandparents who were disciplinarians often taught their adult children how to manage their ‘bad bruck pickney’. This advice is backed up by the book of Proverbs and has been wielded as gospel by many.
Weh sweet Nanny Goat a go run him belly. This was our elders’ way of warning us to do/take everything in moderation. Too much of a good thing ended up being painful—whether it be eating, playing, or mischief making.
Yuh a fly past yuh nest. In times gone by, many believed that children should be seen and not heard. If you were prone to being outspoken during your childhood and didn’t always choose your words carefully, your granny would say this. It was a gentle reminder not to pass your place with those who were older than you.
Yuh gwine suck salt through wooden spoon. This is another proverb that applied to ‘hard ears pickney’. Common wisdom dictated that problem children would soon find themselves in trouble. Even before this manifested, adults would warn kids by telling them they would end up in difficult situations and suffer hardship to find a way out.