When Children Go All ‘Akihi’

‘Akihi’ is a Hawaiian term expressing a situation we are all familiar with – the forgetfulness felt immediately after being given directions.

You know the sort of thing. You find an innocent looking and trustworthy looking pedestrian when you are driving your car trying to find your way:

“Excuse me, do you know the way to Springfield Road?”

“Err, yes, let me think….if you carry on for around half a mile and then take your first left and go past the Three Horseshoes on your right, go past the first set of traffic lights and take the second right after a petrol station. Keep going for about a mile and it’s just past a roundabout on your left.”

Even though they repeat what they have said and you nod and smile as they are saying it, you drive away in the opposite direction and forget everything. You’ve just experienced akihi.

Even if you have three passengers, no one in the car will remember because they all went ‘akihi’ too, the very moment the word ‘left’ was uttered.

Actually all you hear is white noise because you are too busy looking at the person being terribly nice and giving up their precious time to share pointless directions with you.

The person giving you the directions knows full well that what they are saying isn’t actually going in as they see a glazed expression covering your face. They know you’ve gone akihi.

This is the same phenomenon that occurs when you verbally give a child a message to communicate to another teacher or the staff in the reception office.

You ask the child to tell you what you have just said and they repeat it back only to forget most of it or all of it upon reaching their destination.

You know full well that they haven’t delivered the message as intended because when they get back to class and you ask them, they have the same glazed look that you do when you’re driving asking for directions.

There is something rather magical about giving a child a message to pass on – it seems to disappear into thin air and we really mustn’t blame them. We all go akihi at the very moment it matters.

n. Listening to directions and then walking off and promptly forgetting them means that you’ve gone “akihi.”


For more words that should have an English equivalent but don’t then see Lost In Translation by Ella Frances Sanders.

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