The plumber nodded at La Fille. "Is she bilingual then?" he asked. "Oh yes, she can swear like a tradesman in both languages," I said. He went back to soldering his pipe. In fact La Fille has not picked up any gros mots as the French call them, though there was a sharp intake of breath in London some months ago when she went around shouting "Wan-ka-ka, wan-ka-ka" until I realised she was actually saying "One O'Clock Club".
The visits to London are paying off. She speaks to me in English, the Frenchman in French and even translates for her two grandmothers neither of whom speak a word of the other's language. I tell a lie: my mother-in-law can say: "The Cat Is Very Beautiful". It's great but, being a congenital worrier, I am getting in a twist about what we will do after September when she goes to school in Paris and have convinced myself that, surrounded by French speakers, she will decide she can't be bothered to speak to her Mama in English.
I clutch the magical moments and commit them to a flaky memory. Like today when I picked up La Fille from the nursery and was putting on her shoes while half listening to her witter about nothing in particular except how much she wanted me to buy her a sticky bun from the boulangerie and explaining why I should do so. As I struggled with the buckles and silently cursed for not buying the ones with velcro, she announced: "My name is..." and reeled off her full name, followed by my name and the Frenchman's name.
"That's really good," I said, genuinely impressed. "Do you know your address too?"
She looked down. "It's a skirt," she said.
We both burst out laughing.
Why I love Belgium
2 days ago