Friday, November 25, 2011

FWP: French for Whining Purposes?

In TESL grad schoool (Teaching English as a Second Language), one of the zillions of acronyms thrown at us was ESP--"English for Specific Purposes," such as business or medicine.

Tonight, I think that Griffin was working on his FWP--"French for Whining Purposes."  We're visiting my parents in Wisconsin for the Thanksgiving holiday (happy turkey!), and he's just a little discombobulated and overstimulated with all the people and all the excitement and the changes to his daily routine, which has made bedtime a real challenge.

This evening, he showed particularly impressive defiance, despairing and crying and calling, "Daddy!  Daddy!  Daddy!  I want you, Daddy!  I never ever ever ever want to go to sleep!"  When it seemed like everyone else in the family was ready to leave to go buy stock in an earplug company, I gave in and tried to comfort him.

Griffin melted into my arms, in tears.  "Maman, maman, maman!  Je ne veux pas faire dodo!  Je veux Daddy!  Je veux lui!"  (Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!  I don't want to go to bed!  I want Daddy!  I want he!) 

I didn't mind Griffin's persistent proclamation of preference for his pere, because I was so thrilled that he was whining to me in French, unprompted!  He even used the subjunctive mood correctly: when I threatened to leave the room if he didn't calm down, he grabbed me and said "Je veux que tu restes" (I want you to stay).

In fact, Griffin usually falls asleep "reading."

So I snuggled up to my big little boy, rocked him in my arms, and read him French stories until he fell asleep.  I snuck out of the room, smiling, because he was whining so well in his second language.


  1. This is such a sweet little story, Sarah! Congratulations, I can completely relate to how happy you must have been at experiencing this!! I have felt similarly, lately, as Kaya is going through her major mama-phase. In those moments when ALL I want is a little break, it still melts my heart to hear her crying and whining in German, demanding that I come instead of Dada...(breaks my heart for him, though!).
    Thanks for sharing! It's nice to have time to read your blog again...looking forward to hearing stories and getting a little "caught up". =) Tamara

  2. You have an interesting blog. We both share same interest. I love to learn English through Acronyms. recently I coined S MA CAPS (Pronounced See My Caps), an acronym/a Mnemonic to recall types of count nouns. So, Teach your kids the basics of count nouns through this simple acronym. It stands for Society, Measurement, Animals, Containers, Abstract, Person, Shape. It might help you too. link

  3. What a good perspective -- I need to remind myself of this when Ella whines in English! Hooray that she's able to do it in two languages, right? ;) I think I read a yahoo article somewhere that said whining was voted the most annoying sound in the world.

    By the way, I sent you an e-mail to the one attached to your blog. It's kind of timely, so if you get a chance be on the lookout for it. I'm sure you've got enough stuff to do so no worries if it doesn't work out. Hope you are all well!

    Pardon My French

  4. This is a great story Sarah. Worth all the work and all the patience.

  5. Hello, I've just happened upon your blog and I love it! My husband is French and he speaks only French with our 3 children (6,5 and 2). The 2-year-old is the only boy and speaks more French than English! How wonderful to find a blog like yours! I'm excited to use some of the learning material to help them with the academic side of the language.

  6. @Tamara & @PMF--Yes, when your child whines and moans and pleads in your language, it's not nearly as annoying as it would be in English! It's fun to hear that Kaya cries to you in German, Tamara, and that Ella does it in English though living in France.

    I wonder...if we took a poll, would other parents report their child whining to them in that parent's target language? Do kids consciously select their whining language to appeal to the parent, or do they fall into it naturally? (And if the latter, does this mean that Griffin associates French with woe?)

    @sridhar--You're the first "acronymophile" that I've met--welcome and good luck with your new blog!

    @Jo--So good to hear from you! Thank you. B.G. (before Griffin), I thought being a teacher took work and patience--but that's nothing compared to parenting (whether it's in one's native language or not).

    @DGM--Welcome! I would love to hear more about your family's bilingualism. Perhaps you'd be willing to answer some questions for my blog? You can look at the label for "profiles" in my sidebar to see some examples. But I see from your blog that you are a very busy lady, so no pressure. :)