Wednesday, February 27, 2013

hey, I'm one of those snobby loser parents!

The worst thing about sending your child to school is that his classmates keep having birthdays, which means that not only are you spending Sunday afternoon celebrating your friends' kids' birthdays, you're now invited to parties for children you barely know, which means lots of small talk with parents you only recognize as so-and-so's mommy.

Griffin with his friends and his birthday waffle at his fifth birthday celebration
This also means that the people you're chatting with don't necessarily know that you're raising your children bilingually.  (Because your kids are off bowling or jumping in the bouncy castle or watching the magician or whacking the piñata, the other guests don't actually hear you speaking French to anyone during the party.)

This, then, leads to an awkward situation that reminds you that not everyone thinks as highly of bilingualism as you and your family and close friends do:

Me: ....early literacy...library...reading...blah blah blah....

Elementary school teacher: ....early blah blah....

Me: ....yes, and vocabulary acquisition....blah blah blah

Teacher: ...and what about other languages? Some parents are actually trying to teach their children other languages just 'cause they think it will make them smarter.  Get this: I was at the Erie library and a mom was speaking French to her kids* and one of them bumped into me so the mom apologized to me in English and she had a totally Southern accent which means she's not really French but she speaks it to her family?  Ha, ha!  What a loser!  What a snob!**

Me: Well, in fact, raising your kids bilingually is a true gift to them....blah blah blah....

Teacher: [shrug]

Me, to myself: How is it possible that an elementary school teacher is so dismissive of the idea of choosing to raise children bilingually?

Me, to her: By the way, I'm one of those snobby loser Americans who speaks French to her kids.  Even though we live in northern Colorado.  And guess what: it works!  That little boy over there putting his fingers in his nose and then wiping them on his bowling ball? He's mine.  And he's bilingual.  But not for long: he's learning Spanish in a dual immersion school.  He'll be trilingual.

Teacher, removing pied from bouche: Oh, that's great!  I still don't understand how and why you're doing that, but hey, whatever floats your boat!

Me: And how many languages do your children speak?

Teacher: Just one--English, naturally.

Me: Hmm.  Pity.

Teacher:  I myself speak only one language.

Me: Hmm.  That figures.  Pity.   If you'll excuse me, I see my bilingual boy grabbing his crotch, so I'm going to take him to the toilettes.  Lovely chatting with you--au revoir!

So, does this make me a snob?  (As Miss Piggy once said, "What, pretentious?  Moi?!")  Maybe.  But a loser?  Most definitely not.  My kids are the winners.

mon champion

*I never go to the Erie library, so I can guarantee that she wasn't talking about my family.

**Okay, she didn't actually use those words.  But her tone did!


  1. Good on you for standing up for your bilingual family! She's missing out on so much by only being able to speak one language and having no desire to learn another.

  2. Bravo! Good for you and Griffin and Gwenyth and Ed (Your Husband, his name is Ed, right?)

    Anyway, I'm soooo glad that you stood up for yourself and your family. You definitely did the right thing!

  3. How silly the teacher must have felt and good for you for proudly declaring yourself! Very surprising attitude coming from a supposed "educator"! Bravo!

  4. Came across your blog while looking for French opportunities for kids in Colorado, where we hope to move this summer! Hard to understand someone criticizing others for trying to raise their kids in a bilingual environment, and kudos to you for going for it! My husband is French and I am working on becoming more fluent so that our family of 4 can be truly bilingual. Great blog, thanks for writing it!

    1. Thanks for visiting! Let me know if you end up near Denver or Boulder--we'd love to have another family at our French playgroup and storytimes.

      I'm looking forward to reading your blog once I get a chance to catch my breath....

  5. Wow. I think that's another case of "I'm not doing that, so the people who DO must think they're so much better than me!"

    Good on you for standing up for you and your family. :) You are an inspiration. I'm a francophone who unfortunately is losing her French from lack of practice (it wasn't enforced when I was a child), and I want to raise my future children with their heritage language. It's going to be tough, but your blog reminds me that it can be done!! Alors merci!

    1. "I'm not doing that, so the people who DO must think they're so much better than me!" Yes, exactly!!!

      (Of course, I'm guilty of similar thoughts about moms who sew their children's clothes and make all their meals from's not that those parents think they're better than me but rather that I'm jealous of their skills!)

      Good luck with reviving your French--the more you work on it now, the easier it will be to use with your kiddos when the time comes, since it will feel more natural. Maybe you could hang out with francophone families who have young children? Have fun!

  6. We are trying to get our seven year old to be bilingual in Russian an English, but he takes French in his first grade class, and I think there is too much going on in his mind!

  7. "Lordy Miss Claudie"--I think I'll start saying that too! (By the way, every time you comment about la vie in Trinidad and Tobago it makes me want to visit more....)

    When I clicked through on your name to see if you might have a blog nowadays, I found your website, which mentioned "quitting my job" and that you're now an independent consultant? Felicitations!

  8. Thank you all for your wonderful words of support! I knew y'all would understand. :)

  9. Raising Bilingual Children is a great thing, it can give them such an advantage in life. The world is 'getting smaller' as they say and to be able to speak different languages can help in so many different career paths as well as just in general life!! Here Here to Bilingual Babies!!!

  10. Once again I'm reading this post. It's so awesome and funny!