My daughter now, as a model..
We have all had some challenging times, right? As for me, it was when we first moved to London. The move happened very fast and I didn’t have much time to prepare the family. My daughter was 3 and a half years old and she couldn’t speak a word of English. In London, she basically didn’t say anything for the best part of six weeks and was communicating with her Australian nanny by showing pictures of what she needed on a book. She had nightmares every night and I still remember her terrified shouts. To make matters even worse, the French Lycee didn’t take her. I felt badly let down. You keep hearing that kids can learn a foreign language just like that, but, from my experience, it is a load of rubbish. At her local British school, she was just sitting in a corner, crying. Lovely. I remember wanting to take the first Eurostar back to Paris.
I don’t think that I could have coped without the support of the other mums at the (British) nursery. It is fair to say that they took me under their wing and reassured me. One was Portuguese and had been through a similar process herself, when she was 8, which must have been much harder. The others were just incredibly supportive, inviting us for play dates after school and sharing a glass of wine with me while my daughter was playing on her own and in total silence. I remember one in particular, A., who was always reassuring me. And she was right. Eventually, my daughter started to say a few words, then sentences, and after a few months we couldn’t stop her (Actually, we still can’t, she speaks all the time, in French or in English, and she is 13 now).
What goes around comes around. When, a couple of years later, A. eventually moved to France, her 7-year-old son couldn’t speak a word of French and had a really hard time. One day, she called me in tears. As her son wasn’t speaking, one of the teachers had asked her whether he was a bit ‘retarded’. This was the French way of dealing with a little boy who was struggling to speak French. Don’t ask. I did my best to reassure her, reminding her of my daughter. We laughed at all the happy memories (and white wine) we had shared. Her son is now bilingual, but it was a lot more difficult than anticipated.
What is my point here? Well, from time to time, we need support, and a friend who can help, or is just here to listen, can make all the difference. There is nothing like knowing you are not alone. There is nothing like knowing there are others just like you, and that they have had to overcome the same hurdles. This is why, when I was contacted to support the Face 2 Face Befrienders Scheme, I decide to do my best to help them, despite my back of knowledge regarding kids with disabilities. Scope obviously deals with much more difficult issues than mine, but don’t you think that there is enough nastiness in this world and, sometimes, all you need is a friend in your corner. Check out their campaign here.
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London