Many of you may know this already, but for those who don’t – here is my big confession.
My husband is French.
Whew! There, I said it. It’s out there. What a weight off my chest! Just kidding. ;)
You see, my whole life I struggled to be the picture of perfect English. I love to write. I was constantly looking words up in dictionaries and encyclopedias throughout my childhood. I wrote speeches and poems and competed in spelling bees. But there was always French. That one class throughout the day where I discovered that I could express myself in more than one language. That I wasn’t limited. That there was more than just English.
There came a time where I was asked to babysit these two beautiful little girls. And while we all lived in an English place, that wasn’t the language they spoke at home. I learned what ‘fait dodo’ meant and that everyone loves ‘les collations’ and that sometimes a ‘kalin’ and ‘je t’aime’ was all anyone needed to fall asleep at night.
I was hooked.
So from there I moved to a bilingual province (wooooo!). I thought for sure I’d be taking French immersion and my bilingual dreams were sure to come true. Nope, not the case! As it turns out, an English girl isn’t allowed to decide to become French in the eighth grade. Darn. So off I went to boring old English schools to take boring old core French classes. But I met Kevin Bouchard.
He wasn’t particularly keen on being good at French or English. Grammar wasn’t his ‘thing’. He was rough around the edges and didn’t really stick with much of anything. He joined the military as an “English” soldier. He hid his French, and sometimes still does. But he loved me. He was committed to me. And one day while we were all sitting around the dining room table for supper with his French family..someone told a joke. And that joke was hilarious! I know it was because everyone laughed. They laughed so hard they were crying. Everyone but me.
I didn’t understand.
That was the day that I vowed I would be able to speak French. The day I swore if I had children, they would speak French too. The day I knew I would marry Kevin – because I loved him for so much more than I thought I did before. He expressed himself in more than one language. He wasn’t limited. He was more than just English. He was free.
So I tried. I tried and I tried and I tried and tried some more. I took French throughout high school and university and studied on my own time and I tried. There is only so far you can get without using what you learn on a day-to-day basis. What has been explained to me is that I’m the unfortunate victim of a first impression. Apparently, those who speak more than one language have a secretary in their head that reminds them which one to use with which people. When I met Kevin, we spoke English. When his brother was born they spoke French to him. Those are his go-to languages with us to this day.
Now, I happen to have Kevin all figured out. There are 4 occasions where he will speak French with me.
1) When he is intoxicated. That French gene is stronger than the liquor, I guess.
2) When he is mad. Anyone ever notice how it sounds scarier when French people yell at each other than when English people do? Yup.
3) When he doesn’t want ME to get mad. “Babe, je t’aime! Devin quoi? J’ai acheté cette chose! Mais, tu peut se utiliser aussi!” Yeah right.
4) When he wants me to forgive him. “Je t’aime! Hey – regarde-moi! Je t’aime! Je m’excuse!”
I don’t really know what to do. He knows I can speak French but he won’t. We make it for a couple days before he says “Ok, I’m just going to say _________ in French because you won’t understand”.
Anybody think that this blog will help? ;)
S’il vous plait!
Je suis capable.