There are many amazing advantages with having a bilingual family, mostly for the kids of course, although I do believe it makes life linguistically richer for all of us. And sometimes it also makes life more confusing as L’Homme’s grasp of English is pretty darn basic and I sometimes use the wrong word for preservative which means I end up talking about condoms in food. And sometimes it makes life a tad prickly and guilt-laden, like when Tommy gets really angry with his socks not going on properly and says “For fucking sake!”
Ah. I see.
Seeing as I am pretty much his sole English-speaking influence here in France, the only one to blame is myself. This time I can’t blame his vocabulary on L’Homme. I am ashamed, as I pride myself on Tommy having such a sophisticated, ‘proper’ English vocabulary (for a French/English 4 yr old), whilst his French is riddled with slang thanks to Daddy. And I hate myself for having lost my temper in front of him to the point of swearing. And not once, not twice, but a few times, judging by the fact that he has correctly assimilated the word and its context (although, not quite, as the grammar is a bit wonky).
It has been a while since he last said it but this morning he was angry that Léonie wouldn’t give him the little bouncy ball she had found in his room and so he was stomping about swearing.
“Listen Tommy”, I said, “That is an ugly thing to say. It doesn’t sound nice when I say it and it sounds even worse when you say it because you are still a child. So let’s find something else to say when we’re very angry. Both of us.”
“But what, Mummy?” Tommy asked.
“I don’t know … it needs to sound a bit naughty but not actually be naughty. Like, erm, like … like blumming … erm, blimming…”
“Blinkin’ Goblin, Mummy?”
I raised my eyebrows at him.
“Emily say that, Mummy. She call me a blinkin’ goblin when I push her on the sofa.”
Emily is my niece. She is 3. And I remember Sister 1 telling me that Emily’s swear words were indeed Blinkin’ Goblin.
“Erm, well, let’s try it out.” I tried it out. “OH, BLINKIN’ GOBLIN!”
It works. There are enough B’s to bounce off and there is the essential ‘ing’ to make it feel like you’re really swearing. Try it. You’ll like it. We have adopted it as our family swear code and I have already used it twice today. It is great as it also makes me laugh which immediately jolts me out of feeling annoyed. I imagine Emily frowning and making her eyes into slits as she glares at the offending object/person, mumbling “Blinkin’ Goblin” under her breath. I also imagine a goblin, blinking.