French is definitely an easier language to get a handle on than Japanese but this doesn’t mean we don’t suffer from the occasional misunderstanding. This morning a sobbing Nico was told several times by nursery school personnel that his stuffed doggy (who I had forgotten to leave with him) had taken the car and gone off to work. This was an unfortunate result of a communication breakdown which occurred when his non-English speaking teachers misunderstood his cries for his “doggy” to be cries for his “daddy.” Sadly Nico isn’t the only one in the family who has suffered from an inability to speak and understand French correctly. In my French class last week our teacher asked us to come up with some examples of “Vaudois” (the region of Switzerland where we live) French. Misunderstanding, I thought she was asking us to give examples of “Boudoir” (bedroom) French. Although I was confused about how a discussion on regional dialects had verged into one on talking dirty, I gamely chipped in with a new bit of slang I’d recently picked up on how to express the action of making love. The response was a roomful of confused stares and several requests for me to repeat myself. Sadly, by the time I realized my faux pas, the conversation had awkwardly stumbled off in another direction- Haitian cooking terminology I believe it was.
Nico will undoubtedly be the first in our family to get a real grip on the language and I’m sure that he’ll be translating for us at the city office before his 4th birthday. Just the other night when we put him to bed he gave a cheerful little wave and shouted out “Merci! Au revoir!” from his crib as I closed the door. “Um, your welcome…” I responded. I think that this, along with his hardcore addiction to Nutella, definitely means that he’s fast on his way to being culturally adjusted.