Thursday, November 02, 2006

from crying bears to borrowing shoes

One day as Tess and I looked at a storybook (I can’t remember which one), we came across an image of a bear in distress, she asked me for the French word for “cry”. I asked her did she mean it as in to shout out loud or as in to shed tears.

She pointed to the bear’s eyes. I peered closely. Indeed, they appeared to be welling up with tears.

”Il pleure.” I told her.

Satisfied apparently, she made no reply and we continued turning pages.

The next day our neighbor, Yannick and his daughter Constance knocked on the door to invite Tess to come and play.

When Beth and I came over an hour or so later, we sat with Yannick and his wife Crystelle and shared a glass with them while the kids ran about. We all commented on how much more verbal the interactions between Constance and Tess had become.

In their first meetings they had been shy about speaking. They had simply bypassed words in favor of physical play. But now each of them is initiating exchanges with the other…

even Colm is getting in on the action once in awhile (although his designated role seems to be the jester…his stock phrase in French is “Regarde!” – look at me). It’s easy to see how this kind of thing snowballs…the girls go running off after Colm, shouting, “le fantome!”

In the relative quiet that ensues, Crystelle, who is holding her 11 month old son, Paul, in her arms, tells us how earlier, before Beth and I came over, she had been doing some tidying when suddenly Tess had appeared in front of her.

“La bébé pleure!” said Tess.

Crystal went to Paul’s room to find that he had awoken from his nap and was indeed crying.

Before we leave that evening Tess pulls me aside. There is one other thing she wants to know. "How do you say," she says, "can I borrow your princesse shoes?"

I look at her feet. She's wearing a pair of shiny pink shoes. Constance looks on innocently.

"First you give them back to her, then you come home with me and then I'll tell you how."

Tess groans a little but she complies. Later on the walk home, I explain to her how to ask to borrow something. She repeats it a couple of times. I have no doubt she'll use again in the very near future.



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