Thursday, August 08, 2013

New Language

Toren's sister starts kindergarten this year (in a  few weeks!) and I've been trying to teach her some French to prepare for French immersion. It's been hard for me because it's my second language but I feel that we are chipping away at it. Pete's second language is also French so we're ahead that way. Most of the kids who start immersion are from non-francophone families (I read somewhere 80%) so I know it will be fine, it's just something I want to do. The teachers at daycare have been doing some French preparation too, teaching the kids basics like "sauter", "marcher", simple action words.

I think about how language changes, and becomes difficult, when you have a stillborn baby. Verb tenses get tricky (as I wrote about here: Is/Was). Greeting the newly bereaved in support group can be confusing ("Nice to meet you despite the circumstances", "Sorry for your loss, glad you are here"). Dealing with the "grief Olympics" is the worst sport ever (one type of loss is talked about as being "harder" or "easier" to cope with than another, rather than acknowledging that different circumstances make grief different for everyone.) Whether to even mention your dead child when meeting new people is a huge problem to consider (sometimes it's easier to just avoid meeting new people). A new language has to be learned, and in addition, the burden is on the bereaved to teach it to the wider community. As with learning any new skill, it's not easy and it takes time.

Today I realized that I have some very important phrases and sentences in French to teach our daughter:

"Mon petit frère s'appelle Toren."
"Toren est notre bébé."
"Il est mort."
"J'aime mon petit frère."

The basics.

Not easy, and I need time.


  1. This is a great post. We are quite ignorant here in the UK (Scotland, for me) in that we only speak English. My eldest (he is 6) has been recently learning some French and Spanish, but there isn't much emphasis on it.

    My own French is no longer that good, but I recognise your phrases - God bless baby Toren; I'm sure his sister will speak his name with pride in every language she learns x.

    I mentioned my Ethan just yesterday when I was buying a football in a local shop while on holiday. I was surprised how natural it was for me to speak his name. I guess you sometimes just sense that some people want to listen.

  2. It is definitely a difficult language to learn, death in relation to our stillborn babies. Something I love about my boys big sister is that she has seemed to learn this language so purely and innocently. Adding another language, french, will add another dimension. Toren's big sister will embrace it :) Thinking of you in this time of transition to kindergarten. Please let me know if you want to talk about it, I've been through that transition and it was a difficult one for me.