Those amongst you that have read 37.2 le matin (Betty Blue) by Philippe Djian will be aware of the following line “Se fixer des buts dans la vie, c’est s’entortiller dans des chaînes …”(to set yourself goals in life is to bind yourself in chains). I can certainly identify with that right now as I have been feeling the constraints of the chains I have bound myself in with this bilingual goal for Popette.
I am not known for my risk taking, far from it. I am definitely one that plays by the rules… so… having read countless books and articles on the OPOL method, I have been as scrupulous as possible in keeping to my role as the French speaking parent. Then, a chance conversation with a French friend of mine the other day made me feel that I could perhaps rip up the rule book and loosen those chains a little. We were discussing the fact that when she is expressing her love to her English husband she says ‘I love you’ for his benefit and ‘je t’aime’ for hers. Her reasoning being that she feels somewhat detached when she says ‘I love you’ as English is not her first language. To feel it she needs to say ‘je t’aime’ but for her husband to feel it he needs to hear ‘I love you’. This all makes perfect sense. I know that when I express love towards Poppette in English I feel it physically in my heart. When I say ‘je t’aime’ I still mean it but it doesn’t feel quite so intense.
I don’t think anyone would argue that first and foremost comes my relationship with my daughter. Language comes second. I will say that again (for my own benefit really) ‘language comes second’. The sense of release that came with that realisation was huge. There is no need to be so fixed and academic about this process. I should be guided by my instinct and my daughter's needs. The adventure should be fluid and fun and above all else, full of love.
p.s. although this means that I plan to allow myself to express myself in English from time to time should that feel more appropriate, it doesn’t mean that I am going to go all gung-ho as I realise that that could be the beginning of a very slippery slope.