The last two weeks in France have literally ‘flown’ by! Looking back it seems like only yesterday we were eagerly driving to Lisbon Airport to catch a plane to Lyon. Our daughter, husband and Baby Piglet had just moved to their new home in the French countryside and we’d volunteered our services to help them settle in.
Mr. Piglet’s DIY (Do-It-Yourself) skills were well utilized and a long list of jobs had already been drafted on our arrival. I was head cook and bottle washer plus baby entertainer and nappy changer.
Their new home is approximately 250 years old – a rustic farm-house with a wealth of character features which gives the place a real ‘homely’ feel. The garden, approximately 1.4 hectares, is great but will be a full-time job in itself to maintain! There are several nut and apple trees along with vines and fruit bushes which already offered an abundance of loganberries, raspberries, red and black currents. This is exactly the type of garden I would love, but in Portugal living so close to the sea it’s just not possible.
Apart from our last visit to France, when our daughter gave birth and we stayed in Valence, we had really only experienced French life in the city of Lyon. A country girl at heart I always felt uneasy in the city so I really appreciated the slower pace of life in the French countryside. The architecture, markets, villages and medieval towns such as Annecy and Chambery were a complete contrast to the towns and villages of Portugal.
Shopping in the local shops and markets was great but I quickly discovered nobody spoke English. My pronunciation of words such as pain au chocolate and pain au raisan (please forgive the spelling) was apparently so bad I was greeted with a blank expression, a grunt and a shrug of the shoulders which immediately knocked my confidence.
As I write this post I feel extremely sad thinking of my little granddaughter ‘Baby Piglet’; I miss her so much. I miss her smiley face as she greeted me each morning and even her shouting for food as she impatiently demanded to be fed. This is definitely a Mr Piglet trait; he also likes to be fed immediately he is hungry!
She chuckled with enthusiasm at my renditions of the various nursery rhymes and lullabies such as ´Incey Wincey Spider`, ‘Rock a bye baby’ and ‘If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands’ to name a few. She was probably thinking “Poor Grandma, better give her a smile even though her singing is dreadful” It’s amazing how all the words and tunes of nursery rhymes and lullabies, unsung for a couple of decades, sprang so readily to mind. My singing is not that tuneful but at least it kept her entertained for a while.
As I entertained ‘Baby Piglet’ I soon realized crawling around on the floor was a problem – I resembled a grounded whale or should I say Jabba the Hutt!. Perhaps NOW was a good time to start the 21 days without sugar diet I’d read on Nina Badzin’s Blog and stop procrastinating and just get on with it!
I soon recognised how ‘Baby Piglet’ communicated her feelings as to when she was happy, hungry, tired, bored, grumpy or just had the grizzles. I discovered she is not a baby that likes lots of cuddles she is far too inquisitive. Instead she prefers to look round and explore the various rooms and their contents. Her little mind, like a sponge, soaking up the running commentary I gave as we walked from room to room pointing out various items.
During our stay, her French Grandparents came for the weekend. Conversation with ‘Baby Piglet’ reverted to French and I felt like a spare part, an outsider. I did not have a clue what was being said and a wave of panic and sadness washed over me as I thought – one day I may not be able to converse with my granddaughter because I can’t speak French!
My thoughts are in turmoil. Could I actually learn to speak French? (I’ve already tried so hard and failed miserably to learn Portuguese), my heart is telling me I must but my head tells me I am useless at languages and I am setting myself up to fail. I wonder how other grandparents fare when their grand children’s first language is not English
What would you do?
An Emotional Rollercoaster