Monday, 17 December 2012

Pat yourself on the back!

As I was thinking about what to write (so many unfinished and overlapping thoughts in my head these days!), I read a couple of the older posts I wrote about my kids and their bilingualism. And it came to me...

I used to be so worried (and still am to a certain extent) about how to make being American part of their daily lives, not just the language but also the culture. Over the past week, I've realized how much English and being American has become and IS an integral part of who my children are and of their daily experiences.

I mentioned that I am going into Suzanne's class to do some "American" lessons. Since one of her teachers already does English lessons with them, I decided not to teach English but to do lessons on American culture (also since that's the only guidance I got from the teacher). Last week during the lesson on Thanksgiving, some of the kids remembered my Thanksgiving lesson from a couple years earlier. And when I took out the cranberries for them to taste, one of them even said, "oh c'est pas bon ça!" because she remembered tasting them. Suzanne continues to be unfazed by speaking English in front of her entire class and even wants to get up in front of the class with me to help. I actually had to translate what she was saying to me so her class would understand. The other day, after taking my kids to the Hanukkah party organized by the Lille synagogue (for another post), she said to me with great pride, "I"m French, English and a little Jewish.". American, not English...she still has trouble with the whole English language versus English person thing. 

Then on Saturday, Max's school had their annual Christmas party which starts with the kids all singing Christmas songs (so NOT politcally correct) and ends with the parents taking home some useless object made by their kid in class (this year I got a tree made out of cotton balls and a paper tube and a framed picture of Max). As the songs went on, the principal introduced a song by saying"initiation aux langues étrangères" and the kids started singing "Jingle Bells". I lit up. Why? Because that song is my legacy! When Suzanne was in her first year of school, I came into her class everyday for 2 weeks to teach them that song so they could sing it at the Christmas party. And the song lives on even though I didn't teach it. As I continued on my American high, while helping sell the baked goods, a mother asked me what I'd made...because she wanted to eat my cakes because they are so damn good. My American baked good are a staple of the weekly bakesale.

When I got home from the school party, I realized that this whole bilingual and bicultural thing is normal for my kids and for everyone around us. Yes, people are sometimes insensitive or uneducated about bilinguals and/or Americans, but mostly, people see it in a positive light and accept that this is how our family functions.

So please, bilingual parent, take a second to pat yourself on the back. You are doing a great job!

1 comment:

Tallulah@Bilingual Babes said...

Yes, I think we are often so wrapped up in the trying we forget what a mountain we've climbed already! Thanks for the reminder.

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