Monday, August 28, 2006

Making the great transition/translation

August 28, 2006

  • We’re going down the road in the Clio when Tess breaks out with “ohhh lalaaa!” There is a momentary pause, and then a startled giggle. The sound she made seems to have come quite unbidden from some brand new place in her brain. Pretty soon she and Colm are pointing out the window and repeating, “ohhh lalaaa” at every little thing.
  • We enter the office of the high school principal. He seems like a nice man. He greets Tess. She frowns, makes some barely audible but nearly feral noise and buries her face in my pants leg. I feel like I should have her on a leash.

  • The kids are in Colm’s room at the other end of the house. Beth and I have just decided to head to the beach. I holler, “On va à la plage?” The answer from Tess is immediate, instinctive and resounding, “Yeah!” I can hear her running down the hall towards us.
  • Last evening we played a form of Simon dit (Simon says). Tess knew all of the following commands in French. Colm followed suit for the most part:
Stand up
Sit down
Walk around the sofa
Climb up
Pick up the pencil, the pen, the paper
Put it on the table, the chair, the sofa
Give it to mom/me.
Leave it on the ….
Take this
Come here
Look at the ….
Catching her in a moment of playfulness is like feeling the wind at your back…things go so fast and so easy.

  • A mere 90 minutes later… Beth carves a peach at the dinner table. Tess and Colm stuff their their slices into their mouths before I have even touched mine. Tess finishes her piece in rapid fashion and says in a faintly whiney voice that she wants more. I offer mine to her on the condition that she asks for it in French. She frowns. She’s not in the mood. I tell her what to say. “Je voudrais de la peche.” Defiant, she tosses her head to one side. “That’s okay,” I say. “I’ll eat it if you don’t want it.” “I want it some peach,” she says again, the whine now in full force. “I just don’t want to speak French.” “That’s okay. I’ll eat it then.” From the other side of the table, I hear Colm trying to say something with his mouth full of food…”shuvooojayjuhpesh.” Lovely. I hand him my peach as if I were giving him an honors diploma. Tess is both stunned and nonplussed. We can’t stop Colm from asking for peaches, meanwhile Tess ponders her options.
  • Videos are reserved for Sundays in our family, but recently I proposed a new arrangement. Sundays are for videos in English but French videos are good any time of the week. The response?“Dad, can we watch a French video today?” Beth looks at me like I’m some kind of Dr. Frankenstein ...only time will tell, I suppose.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am very much enjoying reading these bits, so much so that my sleep before xc practice in the morning is being sacraficed! I am so happy to be hearing good stories, and so jealous of how good your children's french will be. Please, keep writing!

12:32 AM  
Anonymous Missy said...

Lovely, lovely. Laughed a big, long belly laugh at the story of the peche. Perfect capsule, thank you.

10:58 AM  

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