Since I've been on maternity leave and le Petit has been spending so much time at home with me in the afternoons, his spoken English has taken off. (Or perhaps it's since he's been spending so much time playing games on sesamestreet.org. I should share some of the credit with Abby and Elmo.) He's always understood my English perfectly, but all of a sudden the child who used to respond to me exclusively in French is instead stopping, thinking, and putting together full sentences in English. I can almost see the wheels turning as he picks words from what I just said and combines them with the vocabulary he already has. Sometimes he has trouble with the syntax -- he tries to use "not" as a grammatical replacement for "pas", which makes for some oddly structured sentences -- but it is finally falling into place.
Just in time for my father and stepmother to visit!
His imaginative play is also taking off. Yesterday le Petit wanted to play "market" with me. He set up a stand that reminded him of the local weekend open-air marché, arranging plastic cups full of musical instruments, disassembled Legos, wooden fruit, plastic eggs, and other miscellaneous toys. I gave him some small paper vegetable bags and came by with a shopping basket.
"Bonjour, I'd like three apples," I asked politely.
"No, I'm not ready!" le Petit answered curtly.
I looked over the Legos, asked him what they were, waited a bit, then tried again to buy something. He refused. I tried again. No luck.
"Well, in that case, I'll take my business elsewhere," I said, and went off to do the dishes.
Le Petit loved this. He made me repeat my sentence three or four times.
He wanted to play "market" again with me today, so I waited for him to set up the stand again and find me a basket. Then I tried in vain to buy something.
"Six eggs, please."
"OK. How about three eggs, then?"
"No. No. You take your business elsewhere!" insisted le Petit, with the most charming preschool French accent. He even showed me where 'elsewhere' was by taking my hand and leading me into another room. Is he, for fun, just modeling the worst (and now rarest) kind of Parisian customer service? If so, at least he's doing it in a language most tourists will understand.