Je change, tu changes, elle change …

September 17, 2009

You are currently reading “a fascinating blog about raising a bilingual child, full of good information and insights.” Don’t take my word for it – influential parenting super-blog Who’s The Mummy says so. It really is a great feeling to be absolutely convinced, once and for all, that I have readers who do not know me personally and aren’t marking my writing in an exam. Prior to this, the only such evidence I have ever had before was a fan letter for the TV reviews I wrote (under an assumed name) in a left-wing newspaper of decidedly modest circulation. And, even there, I’m still not a hundred per cent certain it wasn’t my mum writing in under a false name of her own … 

Talking of my mother, she is currently staying with us. This is great for her and Piaf, because they don’t always get a lot of time together. Unlike my own grandparents, who lived five minutes from our house when I was growing up and were daily visitors, Piaf’s live at a considerable distance (though let’s not exaggerate, it’s a couple of hours away in both cases, we’re not talking abroad here.) It’s great for me, too, because I get to spend time with my mum – and it’s also a good excuse to take a couple more days off work.

It’s odd, though – mainly to me at the moment, but it will be odd for Piaf one day, I know it will. You see, my mother doesn’t speak a word of French (not strictly true – she will tell you that all she learnt at school was “fermez la bouche” but that’s no basis for a conversation with a native speaker, now is it?) so the day will come when my daughter will wonder why her father speaks only French to her when his parents spoke only English to him. Saunders faced this too – he says he told his children the truth and they accepted it. I believe him and draw comfort from it – but it will make explicit the artificiality of the situation and I hope that that does not weaken her motivation for using French in the first place.

It also means that, unlike “real” French families, we don’t have that context, that support network, of other native speakers to keep us fresh. Again, I don’t see that as insurmountable, but it is something I am constantly factoring in. 

I do also wonder, incidentally, what my mother thinks of hearing me talk to her granddaughter in a language that is, to her, literally meaningless and is not actually required in her day-to-day life. She has been very accepting and supportive, but I strongly suspect she finds me a little odd.

No change there then.

Bedtime now, so that we are all fresh-faced for a bilingual, tri-generational trip to Croydon town centre tomorrow morning.

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2 Responses to “Je change, tu changes, elle change …”

  1. Dawn said

    I am always a little concerned if my mother is too approving of my parenting. I think it can only be a good thing to be considered at least a little ‘odd’ by our parents.

    PS I found your fab blog via Whos the Mummy – your mum didn’t tell me to come here or nuffink, honest

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