Saturday, January 16, 2010

mother tongue

Last week I was invited to attend a Relief Society dinner at the church.  A very nice woman lives in our town so she offered to pick me up at a store and give me a ride.  We initially were speaking French, but it soon became apparent that her English was much better than my French so we drifted over into that language.  She was telling me about herself and then about interesting things to do in the area when she came to a word that she didn't know in English.  I didn't know the French word so she tried describing what she was talking about.  I knew what she meant, but I couldn't think of the English word either.  I blamed it on having babies and we moved on.  Later I was helping her set up for the dinner and she was in the kitchen looking for some things.  I asked if I could help and she said the she needed some big plates, how do you say that in English?  I replied, plater.  No, that is not a typo, I actually said plate-er.  I quickly corrected myself, No, a platter!  And then doubled over laughing.  She looked at me quizzically as I thought when people ask me if I speak English I will have to say, Non, rien.  Nothing.  I speak nothing.  Matthew tried to look at the bright side and told me that this must mean that my mind was working so hard on learning French that it is concentrating on that and soon my English will be okay again.  I am not quite so hopeful, merely confused.

While I obviously am not succeeding with the actual coherency bit of speaking, I have been turning my efforts toward working on my tone.  Mainly the manner in which I speak to my family.  I was worried before we came about getting very frustrated with my kids, being in a confined space for three months with no respite, having to make sure they get school work done, etc.  I had decided that I had to do some things differently because the lecturing, yelling, what have you, was not really working.  Now, for example, let's say there is a completely fictitious 13 year old boy hypothetically teasing a 9 year old girl... in the past I might tell him all about why he shouldn't do that, how he should be acting, what he could do next, where he should go to think about it all,  on and on and on.  I am rolling my eyes at myself!  So I have been trying to just distract him or remove him from the situation, notice the positive, or simply suggest to him something to do that is more constructive and it totally works!  He knows what correct behavior is, but sometimes he is just restless.  I  used him as an example, but of course this applies to all of the make believe people at my house.

 So although I seem to be losing my grasp on my mother tongue, I am trying to refine my mothering one at least.


Jenn said...

Ha ha ha, such a clever post. I totally know how you feel speaking to a person who doesn't speak English as their first language. Sometimes they'll say something totally vague and then wonder how to say that in English? UH...I'm afraid most of the time I have a completely blank look on my face and shrug shamefully. I think my credibility as an English speaker comes into question a little too often. I never admit I graduated in English...

Love the pics on your blog! What an amazing adventure for your family. I'm glad you are posting so often while you are there. Thanks for your comment on my blog, too. :)

Melba said...

Too funny!

Julie S said...

I miss you! (even though we probably wouldn't have seen you since you've been gone, except maybe a New Year's get together you've deprived us of) And am so delighted for you all and the experiences you are having!

Maybe if I keep reading your posts, some of your mothering skills will somehow rub off on me....???....I can hope!

I know that's what I should be doing too, but do I? No.
You've inspired me to keep trying.

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