While my husband teases me that I have brainwashed my children to be proper liberals, what he has yet to recognize is that it is a ruse for my real brainwashing activity: that they WANT to move to Paris. Immédiatement. Maintenant. Aujourd'hui.
It is no great secret that it is my deepest heart's desire to live in Paris. I spend hours online, browsing apartments for sale, finding the perfect one, then subsequently daydreaming about my life in said apartment. That, by the way, I can't afford. I have even been known to use real estate as the proverbial dangling carrot to convince the rest of my family that they, too, want Paris as badly as I do. After all, who wouldn't want to give up their bedroom for their very own spot on a sleeper sofa in Paris?
My eldest is on board; in fact, she thinks we should leave yesterday. And while I'd like to take credit for this, I believe it has more to do with a seventeen-year-old's wanderlust and the deep-seated desire to get as far away from our "hick town" as possible than it does with my insanely awesome persuasive skills.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is my son. At eleven, his best buddy lives next door and so he is not so keen on Paris sans BFF. So, the swing vote lies with my youngest daughter. She is a mama's girl through and through, yet is still on the fence when it comes to a Parisian residence. So, I have begun to work my brainwashing magic.
One of her big concerns is that she doesn't speak French (she obviously gets her pragmatic nature from moi). Therefore, I have decided to help her with my rocking French language skills (cough-cough). We had lesson number one at bedtime the other evening. She nailed the "oui," "non," "bonjour," "bonsoir," and "bonne nuit," and easily picked up the "Ça va?/Ça va." Then, since it was bedtime, I said, "Est-ce que vous êtes fatigué?" That is when the giggling ensued.
"Mom! Did you ask me if I am a fatty gay?"
"Non, ma petite." I mimed yawning and slowly repeated, "fatigué."
More giggles. "Non Maman. I am not a fatty gay!" Now I was beginning to giggle. So I decided to make things more interesting and grabbed her doll. And, if you speak French, then you know where this is headed - straight to la toilette.
"Est-ce que votre poupée est fatigué?"
She squealed with laughter, "What?!"
I pointed to her doll and said, "La poupée." Hilarity erupted from every part of her nine-year-old body. "Non. My poopy isn't a fatty gay!"
At this point my husband entered the room inquiring as to why tuck in was so rambunctious. "Mommy is teaching me French! Listen to what I learned..." I braced myself and thought about the expression lost in translation. She took a breath and spoke - almost saying it all without laughing...
"My poopy is fatty gay!" He shot me a "really?!" look, then turned to her and said, "Oh! Your doll is tired!" She was half amused and half stunned. "Oui!"
Something great happened for her in that moment. Even in her silliness, she recognized that he understood what she was saying. She had communicated - et en français! Without meaning to, he clinched it for her. That evening, she realized that learning French could be fun, funny, and effective. She said that she wants me to teach her more...and since I am still learning myself, it is a great way to practice. She also is thinking that living in Paris sounds like it might be fun. Score one pour moi!
But that wasn't the best part. The best part came when I taught her the most important phrase of all in any language. I kissed her bonne nuit and said, "Je t'aime....it means 'I love you.'" She smiled, nuzzled in with her fatigué poupée and said the thing that made my heart happier than an apartment in Paris, "Je t'aime, Maman."