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Thursday, 24 May 2012

To teach?

I've been immersed in my little Anglophone community for a few weeks. There was the garage sale, and the trek downtown, that had me conversing a bit in French. But in general, these past few weeks have been spent with friends from the kids' Anglophone school, West Islanders and in our family cocoon. That's about to change.

My two oldest children go to an Anglophone preschool. I absolutely love everything about it—except that it's Anglophone. My daughter will enter her kindergarten year at the private school in September but will go to a Francophone elementary school the rest of her years. I'm going to be doing some work for the school in order to help pay for the pricey tuition, and so I've been mulling over what services I could offer. I was thinking along administrative lines, but another mom gave me an idea...teach French!

I have a long history of teaching English and French, both as foreign languages, to all age groups, from toddlers to retirees. And so while I'm not a native speaker of French, the idea to teach French to these preschoolers is very appealing to me. It's what's missing from this otherwise perfect school. Why shouldn't I step in and fill the gap?

While I've been getting excited about pitching this idea to the teachers, I've been deeply bothered by another issue: les moustiques. They're already out en masse, which is putting a real damper on our sunny afternoons. I've declared la guerre. Ideas so far: Mosquito Dunks, Mosquito Barrier, anti-mosquito bracelets, constructing homes for bats and/or birds that eat mosquitoes. Anyone else have any suggestions?

I'm also set up to add a bunch of new vocabulary to my kids' French arsenal. Summer is big-time homesteading in our household. We're canning, dehydrating, planting a garden (vegetables, fruit and herbs), drying clothes on the line, baking our own bread, pressing flowers and drying them for potpourri, etc. We've already forgotten what the inside of the house looks like (and trust me, no one wants to see the disorder at this point...). The days of waking up slowly in the mornings and planning our time over breakfast are fast approaching!!! I can't wait. I'm well aware of the fact that these are our last few months before my oldest goes off to full-day kindergarten. I want to savour them.

Friday, 11 May 2012

I love Montreal in the springtime...

We've really had a mixed bag this spring. Not so long ago we were in shorts and flip-flops; but then we had to dig out the winter coats again. We've been coasting in balmy, breezy spring temperatures for a while, but most days, the rain just won't let up. I check the weather app on my phone and it seems to change hourly...

The kids do get to play outside almost every day. And with everyone getting bikes and sidewalk chalk out, as befits the suburbs, we're also renewing friendships with the neighbours. Our kids, who previously couldn't even see each other through the scarves and winter hats, now can't stay off of each other's lawns. Toys are easily lent and borrowed, and if you can't find your favourite truck, just take one out of the neighbour kid's lawn—he'll be back to borrow your jump rope in an hour.

Our family inhabits that middle-land of Franglais. I call out to my kids to come get drinks and snacks in English; then, as my son shoots a grubby hand into the fruit bowl, I remind him, "doucement". My husband is a bit more conscious of fitting in. Inside, he speaks a lot of English. Outside, he turns into French Daddy. My daughter doesn't bat an eye, but my son sometimes stares up at his father in bewilderment.

Our kids talk to the neighbour boy in French, but they talk to the boy's parents in English. Sometimes the adults understand, sometimes they just laugh. They always respond to the kids in French. They have a thick Québécois country drawl that I sometimes struggle to understand; and there have been pauses as they take in my Anglophone accent.

There are times when I try too hard. A Mr. Freeze popsicle is not a "friandise glacée"—it's a Mr. Freeze. I wonder if, for them, it takes on a certain foreign flair instead of just being frozen sugar water.

Spring is here, but summer is just around the corner; and we Québécois like to get a jumpstart on it. Time to plant the seedlings, buy dirt (which my daughter finds quite funny) and stain remover (ah, yes, the woes of having a crawler outside) and pump up the bike trailer tires. Ready for adventure!