Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Plus! (a bilingual baby update)

It has been almost 9 months since I’ve last checked in with you. It was shortly before the start of the school year, and – as all my teacher friends know – all free time flies out the window when August comes rolling around. Of course I had a plan to write weekly posts updating you of my cooking, my crafts, and my communication with Lily girl; however, I rarely had time to actually do crafts or cooking let alone write about it. It has been a hamburger helper and “my husband the chef” kind of culinary year for us.

As I re-read my first (and only) post about bilingualism and Lily, I can feel my trepidation and uncertainty. I felt like a fool: a silly American girl trying to speak French to her American daughter. Half of me wondered if people thought I was strange, and the other half worried that there were Francophiles everywhere judging my incorrect French grammar and lacking vocabulary. I realize now that most of my fears came from my insecurity of being a mother at all, not necessarily the language aspect.  I still don’t know much. I still call my mother at the first sniffle or cough, and I have become a Google queen, but I have become much more confident in speaking to Lily in French.

I think the biggest bit of encouragement is her comprehension. When she was a two-month-old, her smile was less of a reaction to anything I said and more of an alert to something new in her diaper. Now she smiles and laughs when we talk. She seems to understand some of what I say. In fact, if I ask her where her tête or her bouche is she will gladly show me, smiling to show off her 5 teeth and counting. She loves to blow des bisous, and she waves bonjour and au revoir. My biggest fear initially was that I was doing more harm than good, stunting her English by clouding it with my haphazard French. My education and research told me otherwise, and now I’ve seen it for myself.

When she was 5 or 6 months old, we started trying to teach her some baby signs. I know. It’s crazy. English and French aren’t enough? You want to teach her sign language too? And it did turn out to be too much for me. Stopping to look up the word for something in French and its sign was just too time-consuming, so I dropped the signing and stuck with the French. Only two of our signs lasted: the sign for plus (which Lily changed and doesn’t even resemble the actual sign for more) and the sign for fini.

My next step is to teach her some songs with hand motions: Itsy Bitsy Spider-esque, but French. I have yet to learn any, but we’ll learn together. I hope to continue posting a little more frequently, but we’ll see what life has in store for us as summer approaches. I see trips to French story time at the library in our future… I’ll let you know how it goes.


  1. French story time with maraine sounds like a better option... Just saying...

  2. Perhaps you can lead the French story time at the library. In any event, you are a great mom. You and Russell should be every bit as proud of yourselves as you are proud of the Lily Girl :)