(effrayant = scary)
For nearly two years now, I have been aware of a French playgroup in Boulder (city just west of here), but it took me nearly one year and three-quarters to work up the courage to take Griffin.
Why? Because of stories like this, where an American takes her baby to a playgroup with French moms and discovers that she's the only one who actually nurses her child, where in fact some of the moms leave their kids at home with the nanny so that they can discuss postpartum weight loss without interruption while they smoke cigarettes and wear skirts and high heels! (Just for contrast: most of us in my moms' group show up in slouchy clothes, eat cookies, nurse without bothering with a hooter hider, and delight in the fact that our kids clearly like hanging out with each other.)
Or because a lot of the bloggers I read seem to report having trouble keeping a second-language playgroup alive--in fact, I can't remember having read any success stories.
Or because I wouldn't know a soul there.
Or because it's hard enough to get out of the house with a toddler and all of his gear, make the 25-minute-drive to the facility in Boulder hosting the group, arrive on time, stay long enough to make it worthwhile, and get home in time to feed toddler and me before grandparent arrives to babysit while I go to work. (Why does it have to be on Monday mornings?!)
Anyway, I finally stopped making excuses in December and started taking Griffin. Perhaps because it's hosted by a nonprofit parenting center and has been in existence for years, it seems to avoid a lot of the problems that can plague newer groups or ones that meet at different people's homes.
Most of what I worried about is not an issue--Griffin loves the train table and art supplies and toys there--he is neither the oldest nor the youngest child--I am not the only non-native French speaker--the moms are not anti-breastfeeding--nor do they look like fashion models.
Everyone, in fact, is friendly and open and funny and willing to respond to my endless questions about how they're keeping French alive for their kids in northern Colorado and "how do you say this in French?" and "What books do you read to him?" and "How do you manage to take your whole family to France several times a year when I can barely drag my cookies to Boulder once a week?"
And it's SO incredibly wonderful to speak French with grown-ups again, to have actual conversations that don't involve, say, naming colors and shapes or ordering a toddler to pick his pretzels up off the floor.
(Plus, it was very cool when I introduced Griffin to the group and one of the parents said, "Your son's name is Griffin? Do you have a blog? I've been reading about him!")What have your experiences with language-centric playgroups been? What works for you? Any advice? (I would love, at some point, to have a French playgroup on my side of the county.)