Friday, August 23, 2013

The Pimmelman Story

Bryan has been bugging me to write about the Pimmelman story on the blog for a while now, so here it is.  This illustrates how it can sometimes be really difficult (and funny) raising a bi-lingual child when the child's grasp of the foreign language begins to surpass your own.

A few months ago, Dylan came home from kindergarten saying a new word - Pimmelman.  At first he just used it around the house, trying it out on different things like calling Oscar and Brady "Pimmelman," using it during his playtime by one Lego man saying "Pimmelman" to the other Lego man and whatnot.  It's not unusual for him to come home from Kindergarten with new words - usually it's from whatever lesson they're doing or a book that he read, so I kind of assumed that Pimmelman was the name of a character in a book (nilpferd, for instance, is one such word he came home with that we weren't familiar with.  It means hippopotamus).  But Pimmelman was cropping up so much in his daily ramblings that we finally asked about it.

He said with an impish grin that his friend Luciano taught him the word (Luciano is a friend from Kindergarten who seems to be the source of a lot of mischief) but he didn't know what it meant.

We were starting to get suspicious that this wasn't a savory word, but sometimes he just says nonsense words that don't mean anything just to be funny.  A few days later his friend Luis came over to play.  Luis came armed with the Pimmelman word and as they were playing in Dylan's bedroom I could hear them shouting "Du bis die Pimmelman!" "Nein, DU bis die Pimmelman!" and thinking they were really funny.  The boys were getting really riled up so I took them to the park to burn off some energy, and the whole way there they were pointing and laughing at people walking by saying stuff like "Da ist die Pimmelman!" (There is the Pimmelman!).

After a few hours at the park on our way home, we saw one of our neighbors unlocking his front door and Dylan and Luis stood at his fence chatting with him. They started off with the typical "I'm Dylan and this is Luis.  We're four years old." And one of them asked him his name.  He said "Christian" and Dylan pointed his finger at him and shouted "Nein, du bis die Pimmelman!" and he and Luis ran off laughing as hard as they could.  We then came up to a young man sitting in his convertible with his girlfriend eating ice cream and Dylan walks right up to his window and shouts "Hallo Pimmelman!"  I ushered both boys home a quickly as possible and scolded them for their rudeness.  Later that night, I tried looking it up in Google translate, but to no avail.

A couple of days later we were walking to Kindergarten and I was talking with another Mom when Dylan pointed at someone across the street and said "Pimmelman!" I told him to be quiet then I asked the other Mom if she knew what that word meant.  She explained that it was kind of like calling someone a "dick" or more precisely, "dick man."  It was at that moment I wished I could reverse time about one week and apologize to our fellow Hiltrup residents for my bi-lingual "pimmelkind."

As a sequel to this story, we are now trying to get him to stop saying "Du bis doof!" which means "You are stupid."  He knows he's not allowed to call someone or something stupid in English (he actually reprimands us if he hears us say the word stupid).  But he's figured out a work-around for this problem and thinks we won't know what he's saying if he calls something stupid in German.

Impish grin.

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