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February Carpet

30th January. I came to Łódź five months ago, in September. It was 17th to be precise.

I am at my job. Like every day. I work as a volunteer in a Polish kindergarten, Przedszkola Miejskie nr 126, close to ulica Broniewskiego. I spend six hours here everyday, from Monday to Friday.

The day starts at eight o’clock when the parents go to work and take the kids to school and finishes at two o’clock, because it’s supposed that volunteers have to work no more than six hours.

Like every morning I’m playing with them. Today it´s Friday what means that I don’t have to do my acting workshop where I teach them basics about body language. Usually I only do this workshop on Wednesdays with everybody. Five classes in total: Czerwona (red), Pomaranczowy (orange), Zółty (yellow), Niebieska (blue) and Zielona (green). I usually draw different characters from animation movies that they know. Then, during the classes I show them how to behave like them. One of the most important (and easy) things in acting is about the stereotypes, and animation movies are plenty of stereotyped characters: Elsa from Frozen is a beautiful, elegant and refined princess, Captain Hook is a wicked, impolite and rude pirate. Kids can recognize these characters easily and they can even imitate my face or moves.

But, sorry about this, can we come back to my day? Like every morning I’m playing with them. Franek is building a plane with Lego blocks. He is not so sophisticated looking for the standards to build a plane. Sometimes the plane has no wings, sometimes has more than ten wings; occasionally the plane has a pilot, occasionally is flying by a big green tree. But I love to imagine how does it look in his mind. For sure something like this:

We have just finished our lunch and in few minutes is time to sleep. But Franek doesn’t think the same.

-Franek! Chodz tu i sadai na dywan (Franek, come here and sit in the carpet) –I order him.

-Nie! Jestem gram samochod, nie teraz… No! I’m playing with my plane, I don’t want to do it now… -he replies me with his angry face.

We have the same discussion three times and finally I take his plane, put it on the table. Then take Franek’s hand and guide him to the carpet (Yes, in this moment I feel like the worst person in the world. I’m sort of Voldemort fighting with Potter and winning). He is upset, of course, but finally he lies down on the carpet with a teddy bear. Proud of me, proud of my well-done work, I say:

-Teraz, luty na dywan! (Now, lie down on the floor!)

I am the winner. What have you think? You must be strict when it’s necessary.

Three minutes later they are enough quiet to let me sit in a chair and write things in Polish. I have brought a Spanish calendar from my lovely city ( Albacete :’) ) and I want to write all the months and days in polish. It’s February and I am going to check the proper word to say the second month of the year in Polish.

What??? Wait… Wait… Wait… It cannot be this one. Let’s go check again… Really? Oh! C’mon!

February in Polish is luty. The same “luty” that I use to say to the children when I want them to lie down in the carpet. During five months I have been saying to them these two words together: February carpet.

Please, February carpet.

Don’t do that and February carpet.

After lunch we have to February carpet.

They are February carpet.

I feel so stupid. These things happen when you are abroad and you don’t want to check the proper meaning of some words. I don’t know why, but my mind get somehow that the word to say “lie” in Polish was “February”. Life is a mystery. Sometimes Polish too.

Actually, after five months saying this sentence to the kids they understand me. I mean, they lie down on the carpet when I say “February carpet” so… it make me think on the professor Noam Chomsky and his linguistic theory. It make me thing about the signifier and meaning, about the cognitive science, about Pavlov and his dog, about Rene Magritte and his ceci n’est pas une pipe… But that’s another history.

 By Jose Alfaro Navarro


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