Despacito: What Do You Mean?

When school let out in May, I knew my kids would put their learning on the backburner. I’m talking about traditional learning, not like learning a back handspring, how to send a Nerf bullet through a tower of cups, or how to add a cool sticker to a Musically video.

I knew they’d “learn” that. But I had no idea – no clue – that they’d learn a little Spanish. None. Nada, I should say. I don’t even know if that’s the right Spanish word there. But it sounds right.

What’s more, I had no idea their teachers would be Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee.

If you told me last spring that my kids would learn Spanish from Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, I’d first pause. Then think. Then wonder how someone gets the name Daddy Yankee, which is strangely cool and awkward at the same time.

So, yeah. Thanks to Despacito, my kids now know more Spanish than they did, well, when school let out. Totally counts as summer school, right? Like, a mini Rosetta Stone, on the radio.

Here’s the thing though. Once I realized they knew so many words, to a peppy little beat, in another language, a terrifying thought hit me. What the hell are my kids saying? Like really?  What does Despacito mean?

So I googled.  And when I did, I learned that the video has more than 2.5 billion views on YouTube. Excuse me. Yes. That’s billion, with a B.  I had to do a double take on the commas. It’s a hot little video, “little” being the wrong word here. It has a perfect, hip-shaking beat, and shows gorgeous women who clearly agree with my analysis.

I also learned, courtesy NPR, that Despacito just became the most streamed song ever. EVER.

Oh, Despacito. What do you mean??

I grab words here and there that I know. Poquito – oh I know that! Para que – got it. But it’s not enough to soothe my uneasiness over what they’re showing in the video and the volume of words my kids are singing.

And here’s that full circle moment, right?  Because I remember totally owning Salt N’ Pepa’s “Push It” from the passenger seat of my mom’s car.

Push it. Push it real good. 

I also remember singing along to Bel Biv Devoe, from the same position in the car – riding shotgun with my mom at the wheel.

Do me, baby. Do me, baby.

push it
Oh sweet Jesus.

O-M-Goodness. The absolute horror. I was little. I had no idea what I was singing. I just liked the beat and knew the words. But my mom must have been dying inside. Or not. Maybe she tuned my singing out as white noise?

But, at least she got these spicy lyrics in English. She knew. She didn’t have to guess. I have to Google!

And, here’s what I found. Despacito definitely involves heated, and by heated I mean HOT, innuendo. Which is totally fine. I mean, they listen to Bruno Mars…so. They know he likes diamonds and champagne and, well, other things (read: sex) by the fire all night. And they giggle when he says it.

I just needed to make sure they weren’t saying something totally vulgar in another language, walking through the grocery singing something totally out of bounds, with me absolutely too clueless to even blush about it.

Googling tells me that this is the chorus. You might want to grab something to fan yourself as you read…


I want to breathe your neck slowly

Let me tell you things in your ears

So that you remember when you’re not with me


I want to strip you off with kisses slowly

Sign the walls of your labrynth

And make your whole body a manuscript

Turn it up turn it up….. turn it up, turn it up


I wanna see you dance

I wanna be your rhythm

I want you to show me

Your favourite places places places Places

Let me surpass your danger zones

To make you scream

And forget your name

Ahem. So, yeah. There’s that. Caliente, no? But I guess I’d rather them sing something like that in Spanish? So, they’re under the cover of being slightly bilingual?  And so passers-by can’t hear what they’re really saying, and then pass judgement on me?

Yeah. I think I’d rather them sing that in Spanish.

So gracias, Mr. Fonsi and Mr. Yankee. Summer school was, um, muy interesante.