Wednesday, 25 June 2008

A dress

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.


Lehners in France said...

Oh, that is sooo lovely. Only a child would have said that. I remember my sister telling my nephew his breakfast was cold and she said she would put it in the micro"wave" and he waved back at her. My other nephew went through a rhyming stage and would say "thank you wank you". My sister glared at me every time and said "Just don't react!" That was hard to do. Debs x

Parisgirl said...

That's hilarious Debs! Sometimes it is very hard to keep a straight face when they come out with something they shouldn't.

Lehners in France said...

Isn't that what's so wonderful about children though, the innocence and the ability to absorb everything around them. I am just so in awe of their sponge like brains. Debs x
P.S. Bob says I absorb French like a Super Tampon, but I'm not so sure.

Jaywalker said...

If she is making 'jeux de mots' in English she sounds like she is doing great.
My boys have been in francophone school for 2 years now following 2 years in London and NEVER speak to me in English unless another English speaker is around. When they do, the eldest (6) has a lovely London accent but can't quite manage sentence structure, and the youngest (4) sounds deeply French.
I should worry more I am sure, but I find French men so irresistible. Even small ones. Advienne que pourra and all that. I am sure they will get their heads round it eventually.
The soul destroying rote learning thing worries me more. So dull!

Parisgirl said...

Jaywalker, it definitely wasn't a deliberate jeux de mots though she did realise afterwards when I laughed. You're right about the rigidity and rote thing (and lack of encouragement for original thinking or individual expression) in the French education system and it worries me too. The children of friends in London are doing so much more exciting and interesting things and seem to be learning just as much.

Dumdad said...


Just keep speaking to La Fille in English, how ever tempting it is to speak in French. I did that with Brainbox and until the age of 7 he spoke to me in French; then, overnight literally, he started to speak to me in English. He's 14 now and we never speak in French unless with French friends.

Princess Perfect, 10, speaks to me in a mix of French and English but her English is getting better. She loves Marmite so I must be doing something right.

Nicol said...

How cute! When she heads off to school, just make sure that you speak only English to her to encourage her. I am still working on getting my dh to speak only Spanish to my dd. He has decided that Thursdays will be Spanish days. Hopefully he remembers when he gets home from work tonight.

Irene said...

Bloody good sense of humor. A dead pan kid. Just what you need.

Jaywalker said...

I say that too to the frenchman in my house, and he is scornful. And I suppose France has just as good evidence of a lively artistic and cultural scene as anywhere else. And the strikes! I love the thought that my kids will be raised in a tradition of civil disobendience.. Some consolation for all that mindless copying.

Parisgirl said...

Dumdad, La Fille loves Twiglets, one step towards Marmite.
Nicol, Irene, thanks, we need to encourage the dead pan.
Jaywalker, yes that is the curious thing; where in the pursuit of the BAC S, 'prepa', grande école, etc., etc., do they learn all that art and culture?