I English. I Not French.
But this isn’t why I’m writing. I was in
- French people don’t use air conditioning. At least not at my house, where the average daytime temperature in the house was between 86 and 88 degrees. Hotter on the 2nd floor, since heat rises.
- The house is so clean it’s like no one lives there. Perhaps stuff gets left out but it just disintegrates in the heat. Because there was nothing out of place.
- The Ginefri kids can speak English.
I want to focus on this last point. 2+ months ago when we spent an evening with the Ginefris in
Fast forward to November 2nd. I arrived last Thursday night and all the children were asleep. On Friday morning I went downstairs to where they were eating their breakfast, which consisted of Dig ‘em Smacks and toast dipped in milk for so long that it disintegrated when pulled from the bowl. Mmmmmm.
I looked at Max (4 ½ years old), ready to test him. “How are you Max?” I said in English. He didn’t really look up from slurping his cereal. “Good”, he said. “How are you?”
“What are you doing?” I asked. The response was slightly delayed and without total confidence, but he said it: “I’m eat breakfast”. And a minute later, with milk pouring out of his mouth: “I like cereal.” The pronunciation was perfect. He looked like an American. And a minute later: “You eat breakfast?”
Virginie was standing next to me. “It’s incredible”, I said to her in French. “A French child learning English in two months. How is this even possible?”
Max looked at me. “I English”, he said in English. “I not French. You’re French!” Then he laughed.
It was like that all weekend. He understood everything I said and – most of the time – could respond. The sentence structure was a bit lacking but I’m not sure what one can expect after 75 days. Certainly not what I witnessed. Clearly it really will all come in time.
Max’s 6-year old sister Margaux spoke a lot less, but she still understood me. I heard her translate my sentences to her father a few times. It was so incredible that I would never have believed it if I hadn’t personally witnessed it. I hope my kids can do the same. We are getting there.