Regular readers can probably guess what this is about just from the title. Yes, I hold my hands up – I have bought a Peppa Pig DVD in French. Peppa is still called Peppa Pig, incidentally (not Colette Cochon, for example) which you might think would cause problems for young ears, as it means there are three characters called Peppa Pig, Papa Pig and Papi Pig. But not a bit of it.

However, in other respects, it has not been entirely trouble-free. We arrived home to find it waiting for us one evening and, in response to Piaf’s strident cries of “Peppa Pick! Peppa Pick!” I triumphantly put it in the DVD player, skipped through the trailers and sat back.

Piaf watched half the first episode, then … “Peppa Pick! Peppa Pick!” Already, for her, Peppa spoke English. It therefore followed that this Francophone sow could not be her. 

I tried to reason with her. Pointing one by one to the characters on the screen, we established that, yes, that was Peppa; that was George; and there were Mummy and Daddy Pigs. Yet she was still not entirely convinced and we ended up compromising and watching Casimir for the rest of the evening.

The next day, however, she had fully accepted that Peppa, like her, was bilingual, and watched her in French with no complaints.

Here’s hoping she likes the Dim Dam Doum DVD she’s getting in her stocking and that the pig-love is just a blip.

Talking of stockings – or, perhaps, souliers – Piaf met le Père Noël for the first time recently in Balham – and he spoke French! She was a bit disconcerted to see him in the flesh rather than just in a picture and was probably a bit young but, with a February birthday, next Christmas seems so long to wait – she’ll be nearly three by then, practically an adult! French Chistmas songs were also the order of the day, including five full verses of Douce nuit – I don’t know that many verses in English …

I found myself feeling slightly snooty to hear other parents speaking to each other in English. Typical, I thought – let les rosbifs in and they take over …

Today’s treat is a suitably festive number from Johnny who, I was glad to hear recently, is well on the mend. Joyeuses fêtes, Monsieur Smet!

In the Spy vs Spy world of bilingualism in our house, maman has just upped the stakes by buying a Peppa Pig Christmas DVD.

Until now, DVDs (apart from Baby Einstein, which were nothing to do with me and which I wanted to hide whenever we had visitors) have been in French and, while hopefully fun for Piaf, they have been purchased primarily to provide alternative verbal “models” of French in the house. Some have been more popular with Piaf, some less so; some have been more tolerable to maman, some less so (Bonne nuit les enfants still mildly terrifies her, though Piaf doesn’t mind it at all); some I have seen so many times I could quote them for you. But the “golden thread”, as we say in the public sector when we want a break from thinking, has been about seeing French as a widespread phenomenon and a gateway to pleasant experiences. 

Peppa Pig, of course, is in English.

I hope it goes without saying (especially if maman is reading this instead of working) that I want my child to be bilingual in French and English, rather than monolingual in French; and that, even more than that, I want her to be happy. Nor, having watched it, can I criticise Peppa. It is witty, intelligent and attractive and Piaf clearly loves it.

Hence my dilemma – because she loves it so much that she asks to watch it even when maman is not there, i.e. at previously Francophone moments. And, hard though it is to confess, I lie. 

I have no problem at all with lying to my child per se. If she takes a notion to play with a favourite doll (or car, or felt-tipped pens, or paper bag) just before bedtime, I will, without hesitation, tell her “no.” If she asks why, I will, equally without hesitation, tell her that, as it is bedtime, the doll (or car, or felt-tipped pens, or paper bag) is tired. If I want her to watch DVD x rather than DVD y (typically because I have seen DVD y many times in the recent past and it is doing my head in) then DVD y will turn out to be “missing” and DVD x presented as a fait accompli.

But I can argue that I make these choices for the “good” of those concerned, be it my daughter’s physical health or my own mental health. What “good” am I defending when Peppa Pig is “lost” until Trotro is in the machine? Peppa is no worse than Trotro, and is definitely better than some of her other DVDs; and, if she is to be bilingual, then how can I honestly object to exposure to her other native language, especially when her mother has often grinned and borne it through interminable episodes of Bumba or Léo et Popi?

And yet lie I do and I still manage to sleep at night. I lie because, though English is important, she already gets vastly more exposure to English language, culture and mores. Though she knows many French words, she will often start by using the English word and need to be prompted with “que dit papa?” before producing the French equivalent. Of the 96 weeks she has been with us to date, give or take, perhaps two in total have been spent in wholly Francophone surroundings. She has all the time in the world to watch Peppa Pig; Petit Ours Brun can’t wait.

All is fair in love and bilingualism.