Thursday, April 23, 2009

Decision Made

I have been dragging my feet on putting LK in an halte-garderie (basically French day care) because I really wanted him to be in a bilingual one. It just seemed a little cruel to throw him into an entirely French environment when (i) he has so little exposure to French, and (ii) he's not used to being without me or in a familiar setting. But it's tough to find a bilingual garderie - at least one that's near my apartment or one that doesn't costs thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands (keep going - you'll get the idea) of euros a year. And with a new baby on the way, I really do have to think about both distance and money.

So, looks like he'll be going to an all-French garderie for a little while. There's one literally 5 minutes away from our apartment and another a little bit further away. The decision is finally made and yet I'm still dragging my feet. I know it'll be good for him to spend time away from me and away from a sitter. I know he'll love it once he gets used to going. But I know there's going to be a good month or so that will absolutely suck. Sometimes he pitches a fit when I leave him with his beloved father in our apartment - so how's he going to handle me leaving him among strangers in a foreign (and foreign-speaking) enviroment? The thought literally brings tears to my eyes. And yet, I know that it's normal and that we must all go through it at some point.

In my hearts of hearts, I must admit that my hesitation is not entirely related to separation anxiety (on both our parts) - it is in some part due to my fear of relinquishing him to the French establishment. This is not my country or culture. This is not my husband's country or culture. I feel as if I could easily fail him somehow - by not being able to interpret some sociological situation correctly, or literally not being able to interpret what his teacher, classmates, or classmates parents are saying correctly. I worry that he'll need me to understand something cultural and I just won't be able to. Once again, I'm sure I'm over-thinking this. He'll probably be in an all-french speaking environment for a maximum of a year. And my French is good enough to handle whatever comes up (I think) within the school context at this age. But still.

But if I really, really dig into my hearts of hearts, there's more. I am worried about him speaking French - but not in the way you'd think. LK is very quick with languages. I'm sure all parents say that about their kids, but LK speaks extraordinarily well for a 20-month old. He can use full sentences like: Papa's taking a bath, or I like to wash my hands or Where are you going? And he correctly uses abstract words like "gemutlich," which is a complicated German word that can loosely translated as "cozy" but means a lot more than that. (Well, he probably does mean cozy when he says it, but he's not getting it wrong for the German sense either). Anyway, he expresses himself very well and I almost always understand what he's saying either in English or German. But when he learns French, I'm not going to always be able to understand him anymore. My French vocabulary has not yet extended into halte-garderie talk. I've picked up somethings at the playground (pousse-toi! c'est a moi!) but there's so much I still don't know. The French have so many colloquialisms.

I guess I should look at it as a good opportunity for me to learn, but I don't like the idea of me not understanding him. And - I really hate to admit it - I don't like the idea of my almost-2 year old having to translate for me! It just reminds me that there will come a time, very soon probably, where LK will realize that I am not "Mom-all-knowing." And that he'll see that I'm "Mom-of-the-shitty-accent" or "Mom-who-only-knows-stuff-when-someone-speaks-to-her-in-the-right-language. "

Bof. Que sera sera.

2 comments:

Laura said...

In context with this post, I just NEED to give you this link:
http://french-word-a-day.typepad.com/motdujour/

Barb said...

OK - I'm bookmarking this. Great find, Laura. Thank you!