Saturday, 17 May 2008
Out of the Mouths
What La Fille has picked up from me is nothing to what she has picked up in French.
This morning in the time it took to put our coats on to go to the park it started raining; fat glassy globules growling at the windows and jumping off the sills. "Change of plan," I said cheerfully, "Coats off. Let's think; what shall we do now?" We did a jigsaw and read a book. Then we emptied the toybox of maracas, tambourines, a mini xylophone and the recorder a made a racket to the 'Mozart for Children' (why 'for children'?) CD the Frenchman brought home with one of the dozens of how-to-be-a-good-parent magazines published in France. I binned the magazine (headline: Understanding your Child's Emotions) and kept the CD. That's what I call good parenting.
I left La Fille for five minutes and came back to find her standing in her room surrounded by toys, games, and a multitude of other things to do, arms crossed across her chest. "Je m'en fous. Je m'ennuie", she announced adopting a sulky pout. At its most inoffensive - it is never polite - this means: "I don't give a damn. I'm bored." That said, the "fous" bit from the verb foutre can mean much worse. One French site even translates it as "not to give a rat's ass". I flinched. I feel sure the parenting magazine would have said not to react. Where on earth did that come from? Under cross-examination I might concede that some of her English idioms might have come from me, and only some and only might. But not the ennuie; I have no time to be bored. I would have blamed the Frenchman but he does not do boredom either; if he has nothing to do - and sometimes even if he has - he sleeps. The Frenchman tells me she said the same thing in front of a dozen people at his friends' garden party last week. I said: "Well at least they won't think it came from me."
And so the bilingual experiment continues. I expect to be able to report soon that La Fille can swear like a trooper in French and English. What progress.