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England France

Speaking French, Finally

I am writing a memory to backdate to where it belongs back in 2008 but I would put it here first.

For the last month, or so, we have been working on our french language tapes with Michael Thomas. We tell the kids that soon we will be in France. People don’t like to speak english in France so we will need to learn some french. Every time we stop the truck to get out in a new town TJ has been asking, “Do they speak french?” “No”, I say over and over again.

The kids fall asleep in their beds inside the truck at the ferry terminal in Dover. As TJ goes to sleep I tell her, “Tomorrow we go to France and we will meet people who don’t speak any english and we will need to speak to them in French”. After talking a bit more about these people who don’t speak english and are so clever that they can speak french even when they are babies TJ can’t fight sleep any more and finally closes her eyes.

We need to get out of the truck to sail across. The kids seem to be sleepwalking as they take their sleeping bags and pillows out of the truck and lay back down on the carpeted ferry floor while me and Andrew enjoy the trip with our traditional glass of wine, cheese and bread. Their sleepwalking takes a reverse journey as we make our way back to the truck and Andrew drives us off the ferry and back onto dry land.

fog

In the morning I wake TJ up while everyone else is still asleep. “TJ we are in France now. Do you want to go and get dad a coffee? We’ll surprise him.” We open the door of the truck and find we are surrounded by fog. It is so thick we can’t see but a few steps in front of us. I wonder what TJ must be thinking. Does she think that french speaking people live on a cloud? As we can’t see we take a guess at which direction to find a coffee. We walk in the gas station and see beautiful baguettes and croissants. We look at each other and smile. We know we are definately no longer in England. We put some items on the counter in front of a solemn woman. I prompt TJ to make the order. “Bon jour, je voudrais une cafe, s’ilvous plait.” The woman mechanically makes up a coffee with no change in her stoic expression. I am beaming, busting with pride. TJ follows the lead of the woman behind the counter and keeps a very solemn expression. She wants the woman to think she speaks french all the time. She calmly gives the woman some strange coins, and says, “merci.” We walk out of the shop with her dads coffee, an orange juice for herself and 2 long baguettes. She is trying hard not to smile but it is difficult not to.

 

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