Enough. Enough. Enough. I have been way too hard on myself for not speaking French lately to my 21 month old, questioning whether to use my slowly evaporating French, or my newly stronger Spanish, and in the meantime, he is only getting English.
I just started speaking French again. Just like that. Right after putting away the dishes after dinner. I switched to French and I certainly got his attention. He laughed and laughed and laughed until he was turning red in the face. He brought me a French book not long after that, so he must know the difference even if I am not using it that much lately. He continued laughing throughout, and when I would mention the “petite souris” he would say “no, (giggle giggle giggle) MOUSE!!” My husband (non-French speaking) understood much of what I was saying and enjoyed expanding his own vocabulary as I taught them the exclamation dégueulasse when my son put his shoe in his mouth. At bedtime, I read him a French book as I typically do, but this time, he sat up, watched ME rather than the book and smiled as I read.
This is a reminder to keep it fun. I tend to worry so much about everything, and rather than worrying about too much, too little, not native, etc. I need to just share my love for language. He seems to enjoy it too.
My Spanish is taking a hit this summer as I am not enrolled in any Spanish courses, and I am not currently reading anything in Spanish or speaking it with anyone. I hope I can jump right on in this August when my classes start and I have Latin American Literature and Spanish Grammar through Literature. Perhaps I need to jump back into Spanish as well. Just like that. Right after putting my kid to sleep.
My French vocabulary is expanding in ways I had never imagined as I speak French with my kiddo. Last night, as I watched him practice crawling and performing various yoga moves I will never be able to emulate, I hit a roadblock in my conversation. I said, in French, “Let’s go wipe the…the…how do you say it in English? Snot?…off your face.”
Feeling like a sixth grader looking up bad words in the dictionary (I am sure they just Google it on their smartphones now), I had to look up snot. I don’t have the large desk-sized version of the Robert dictionary you French majors may have lugged around. I don’t even have the Petit Robert. I have a small highly abridged version. I didn’t expect to find it, but there it was. In fact, not only did it tell me how to say snot (morve, f.), but it told me how to say “snotty adj. (as in children)- morveaux.”
I looked up snot in my Spanish dictionary next. Technology is great for quick answers, but I still love my dictionaries. It’s “mocos” in Spanish. As I contemplated the various ways I can sneak this into my Spanish Conversation course this Fall, I realized that the only Swedish word I remember from my friendship with some Swedish exchange students years ago is “slem,” or, snot. We were walking through arctic conditions on the UK campus, and the topic came up as the substance was forming ice on our faces. Okay, it felt arctic to me. I am sure they thought it felt like home.
The point of all this is that until you know how to say random and seldom-taught vocabulary words such as snot, raccoon and spark plug in your target language, you have a lot of dictionary/smartphone time in your future. May all of them be as fun as snot, er, morve. I just hope you don’t need to know because someone is waiting for you to wipe it from their face.