Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Sarah asked

About answering questions about the bilingual thing.

Well, I like talking about it. Two of the useless diplomas I have are in Linguistics so it's a domaine I enjoy discussing. But when it comes to my kids, I have very little souplesse. Making sure that English is a big part of their world is my mission. And I'm pretty uptight about it. The amount of exposure they get to English per day is a constant concern. It's one of the main reasons I don't like it that they have to eat at the cafeteria twice a week. That's 8 uninterrupted hours of French. So when people make comments about my strict attitude (which is never overtly expressed but more an implicit understanding between the boys and me) about our language use, I tend to become aggressive with statistics and book titles and linguistic jargon. Which, I realize, is not the most practical path to understanding but sometimes I can't help it. It's visceral. Language is viseral. But, in general, people here are interested in how blingualism works and admirative of the boys and the discussions are almost always positive.

There's such a fine line for bicultural kids. You want them to feel at home where they live, but you want them to feel linked to the other country too. And for me, language is that bridge.

Which is not to say that I will be more successful than those parents who are cooler about the whole bilingual thing. It's a crap shoot. We'll see in 10 years.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Jertta's right

They do have a lot of very funny classifications here.

Bobos - is actually short for bourgeois-bohème, which is kind of like being a rich bohemian. People from well-off families deciding to live a little bit like hippies. But well-dressed hippies.

Plouc - is, gosh, I don't even know how to translate that. Low class? But that sounds so unimaginative, and plouc, as a label, is the opposite.

Vieille France - Well, for women, it would mean a lot of wool, headbands, plaid skirts, sensible low-heeled skirts, and a cross necklace. For the men, cords, an adult modification of the bowl haircut, oxford cloth button down shirts - even on the weekends.

Gauche caviar - Left-wing politically oriented people but with lots of cash. So they talk a lot about the whole solidarity thing with their hired help.

Fin de - no, I'd better stop here. I don't want anyone getting the wrong idea about France or me.

Obviously, these are generalisations and we don't judge people and we love them all and they're all beautiful and blah blah blah blah....

Please, no hate comments from any members of any groups who might be described by the politically very incorrect labels listed above. You're all wonderful people.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Ah, baba-cool

Eric asked a good question. Sarah commented on it as well. Baba-cool is one of those great French classifications. I can see where it could get translated as hippy, but it's not really that. Baba-cools tend to be politically engaged, whereas hippies tend to be apolitical, or am I wrong about that? Please, no hate comments from hippies, you're all great. My neice wears tie-dye and all that.

I had a boyfirend who thought I was a hippy. Seriously. Any of you who know me understand how absurd that is. I think it was the vegetarian thing. He just figured one went with the other. In the early stages he actually bought me PEACE SIGN EARRINGS and a LEATHER PATCHWORK HANDBAG. Again, absurd. I did use the earrings once for Halloween. And he finally gave the bag to his mother, who was no more of a hippy than I was, but she needed a bag.

Obviously, now that I eat meat, I'm no longer mistaken for a hippy. Despite my dreads. How odd.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Ok, so I'm obviously not seeing the right doctor

I had a chat with Boy2's teacher the other day. About my children's bilingualism. Which was fine. She's very, um, baba-cool, and couldn't understand some of the rules we have but whatever. It was fine. Except she had the worst post-coffee breath ever. And she kept moving closer to me, as some people who have different personal space criteria do, and I kept slowly moving away. It was a strange dance.


Later, Boy2 asked me why I kept backing up from his teacher. I told him, as nicely as I could, that she had probably had a cup of coffee recently and that sometimes leftover coffee smell on someone's breath isn't that pleasant (Which is why tic-tac's and altoids were invented) but she's a great teacher and I wasn't backing up because I didn't like her.

He smiled. "But that's not her fault, Mama. Her doctor told her she had to drink a lot of coffee. That's why she drinks coffee all day long. It's the rule."

I didn't bother telling him that keeping track of 30 4-year olds is more likely the real reason.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ok, so they're amazing

But still.

In Friday's post I wrote that it was Boy2 who was doing the reading. He's smart, brillant even, no doubt, and will hopefully cure cancer and all that is wrong with the world. His name is Raphaël, after all.

But, he just turned 4 a couple of weeks ago and isn't quite reading novels yet. When he goes to bed, he snuggles up with his penquin and his bear and sings songs until he falls asleep.

It was Boy1 who was doing the reading. Boy1 is also, of course, brillant, what other kind of child would we breed? He's very artistic and will probably bring about world peace through his art. His recent projects include a deck of cards which he designed and made and a dragon file with names and habitat information and diagrams of all the dragons he's dreamed up. He's got a message. His name is Gabriel, after all.

Friday, October 12, 2007

And it wasn't even under the covers with a flashlight

So bedtime for the boys is 8. Well, we go up at 8 and by the time they brush and wash and we read a book and sing a song and kiss a cheek, it's almost 8:30.

Imagine my surprise last night when, at 10:00, I went upstairs and saw that Boy2's light was still on. I walked in and found him reading. Technically, he's allowed to read for 5 minutes before going to sleep. 8:30-10:00 is so not 5 minutes.

So what do you do? Get mad at your kid for staying up late or get happy because your kid stayed up late READING?

I tried to do a measured amount of both.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Ah, le fou rire

The crazy laugh. You know that laugh. That laugh that you can't stop. And the harder you try, the worse it gets.

My brother and I used to get the crazy laugh in church. In our defense, it was a really lame church. Bad music, long service, droning preacher man, endless fake smiles. Luckily, we were usually late, so we often sat in the balcony and only embarassed my mother instead of mortifying her (which would have been the case had we been seated downstairs with the big crowds). I cannot imagine why that church was always so full. Because it was a seriously lame church.


My question of the day: when was the last time you had a crazy laugh?

Monday, October 08, 2007


I'm not a slacker. Really. That's not why I haven't been posting. I haven't been posting because my time is now spent on 15 hours of teaching spread out all over the place, the dining room floor which is half-way scraped, finishing up some phone lessons for my old job, and shuttling the kids to and from school and karate and whatever else. Cooking and cleaning are in there somewhere. And I actually managed to make a delicious apple tart with honey and fresh thyme this weekend. There's one piece left and Boy1 made me promise tonight when I kissed him goodnight that I would not eat it.

I'm not complaining, just saying. When my time starts to get limited, my computer usage is restricted to watching last week's episodes of Heroes and Grey's Anatomy.

Don't take it personally.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Ah, the pretentiousness of youth

At some point during my early 20's, or maybe not even that old, I wrote a poem. Actually, I may have written more than one but they were not good enough to remember or even discuss. But all day long I've had the line and silence is my only sound in my head and I couldn't figure out where in the heck it came from.

And then I remembered. It was the last line of some poem I gave to some person. Honestly, I have no idea who I gave it to or why.

What on earth was I talking about?

A guy I dated went through a major poetry phase during our break-up. I did break up with him while I was in France and he was cheating on me waiting for me in Seattle so I guess he thought that was valid poem material. Throw the Frenchman into the mix (Husband) and he had material for months. He wrote them on postcards and sent them to me. And to friends. And to my mother.

Silence should have been his only sound.