Friday, September 04, 2009


Le Petit and I were standing in line at the bakery and I was idly commenting aloud on bread and shopping lists when I noticed that in front of us a young boy, no older than five, was staring at me fixedly. He tugged on his mother's hand and whispered something to her without taking his eyes off of me.

"I don't know, I didn't hear her speaking," responded his mother in French to a question I didn't overhear. "Maybe she was speaking English. Why don't you ask?"

The boy continued to stare at me timidly with his mouth clamped shut, so I cheerfully answered in French, "Yes, I was speaking English. I am American, so my son's learning both English and French.

His mother and I fell into a conversation about raising bilingual children, and she effused how wonderful it was that le Petit was picking up such a useful second language. I explained that while I only spoke English at home, my husband spoke French, so le Petit was getting a good opportunity from the beginning to master both. Meanwhile her son, who was still too scared to say a word to me, looked up at his mother.

"I'm glad we only speak French chez nous, maman," he said to her with relief.


Isabelle said...

Oh, that's so cute!

When I was 3 years old, my mom starting speaking English to me... Way too late, evidently, because I once told her (in French): "Can you speak "normal" to me?"

caramama said...

I love it!

I really wish my Italian was what it used to be and I spoke it more around the kid(s). I think raising kids bilingual is fantastic!

Polly-Vous Francais said...

Adorable story! Ought to be shared with all parents raising bilingual kids.