I’m going to tell you something I have been keeping from you. Mr. Waffle spent his very early years in Canada. French Canada. And then when he came home, he went to the French school and he stayed there when his parents went to South America (except he went to the Venezuelan French school, if you see what I mean – as he tells it, it was all kind of similar, lots of stuff about “our ancestors the Gauls”). And so now, he speaks perfect French. And this is very handy. And we do live in a francophone country. And it seems a shame to waste all this knowledge. So, to cut a long story short, before the Princess was born, I persuaded him that he should speak French to her. He was reluctant, but I was a pregnant juggernaut.
This has led to a number of difficulties which I had not anticipated. Firstly, Mr. Waffle spends a lot of time worrying over “bringing up your child to be bilingual” websites and secondly, whenever we meet Irish friends (from whom my loving spouse has spent a lifetime concealing his perfect French, for reasons I can’t entirely fathom, something to do with not showing off, I think) my husband communicates with his daughter in grunts.
A third difficulty has just emerged. The Princess is starting to talk. Before our holidays, she had a range of English words but due to intense hot housing from her father over the summer holidays, there’s no doubt that la francophonie is pulling ahead. You may think French is hard but there are a lot of easy words like “l’eau” for water and “la” for there and “dodo” for sleep (important note here, in case you might be hoping to use this expression in France – now that you regard this website as an authority on the French language – grown-ups say dormir but do do is permissible for the under 3s). And “oui” for yes. Despite my promotion of the English alternatives, she is very taken with the French. Our conversations go like this:
Princess, pointing at fountain: L’eau, l’eau
Me: Yes, water.
P, in tones of impatience: L’eau, l’eau, l’eau.
Me: I see the water.
P, with pathetic sigh: L’eau.
Or another favourite:
Me: Would you like to go for a nap?
P – Blank expression.
Me: Nappedy wappedy (stop sniggering at the back).
P – Continues blank.
Me: Lie face on hand and make snoring noise.
P, in tones of delight: Ah, dodo, oui.
on 08 September 2004 at 20:12
Well, before we undertake that kind of commitment I’d like to know what your nap schedule is like.
on 08 September 2004 at 23:32
2-6, noon and night, occasional dribble naturally, and I get kind of needy if I’m not given a bottle of an evening.
on 09 September 2004 at 15:54
on 10 September 2004 at 00:45
Silver, you’re on. Thanks Krista, fingers crossed and all that. Beth, this is ominous. Maybe we’ll just have to send her to the French school so that she can learn about her ancestors the gauls..