Talking With Kids About Conjugation. Wait. Whaaaat?

Written by Devra on August 16th, 2010

Aviva and I will write a BlogHer10 recap post, and we’ll get to it in the next couple of weeks, but a brief overview would be the conference was fantastic, we met and re-met really incredible women, and men…And I have re-purposed the reusable water bottle we received in our BlogHer10 swag bag (as pictured, it holds a pina colada-virgin or loaded-quite nicely!)

You may remember Aviva and I are travel experts over at Club Med Insider and this means from time to time we visit a resort for, um, research.  So this week I am at Club Med in Punta Cana spending the week here with my family. This vacation was originally scheduled last January, however the week we were to leave, the earthquake in Haiti happened and we made the decision to postpone our trip.  It just didn’t seem like the right time to frolic on the other end of an island with the aftershocks, both personal and physical, from the quake still fresh. So we waited. And now we’re here and it’s gorgeous!

Since this is the final week of many European vacations, the resort is chock full of French speaking folks, somewhere around 900 of them.   While I studied the French language from 3rd grade all the way through college, I haven’t exactly utilized French very often in the past 15 years.  I’m admittedly rusty.  I can definitely understand French enough to respond to anyone who greets me and I have also been able to translate the kids’ theatre shows for my own children who do not speak French. However, having an actual conversation in French is a bit of a challenge, only because I can’t remember how to conjugate verbs properly.   I’m essentially speaking Navajo French. The Navajo language does not express the past, present or future of a verb in the same way other languages do. When one speaks Navajo, the tense of the verb is based upon the context of the entire conversation or how objects relate to one another.  So it would be like me saying, “I run” and you must figure out by the context of what we are discussing if I have  already run, will run, or am presently running.  I’ve developed my own hybrid form of communication, I give to you, Navajo French.  I’m getting by on it, that and my Sesame Street Espanol. Fortunately I do know that “no” in Spanish is “no” something Oscar The Grouch did not.

The experience of my kids hearing me communicate in another language, and having them hear others actually understand me, even if it’s a bit hap-hazard, has been a very good thing. They now see me in a different light as I don’t recall having said to either of them at any point, “Mom knows how to speak and read French.” The last time our family spent time amid the French was 10 years ago when we took a cruise and it stopped at St. Maarten. At that time, our oldest son was then 5 years old and our youngest was 8 months.  Our older son remembers meeting the French on the island. In fact to this day when our son recalls St. Maarten he refers to it as “The naked people place.”

If the Internet Gods smile down upon me, I’ll post more while I’m here, otherwise I’ll catch up when I retourner!


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