lundi, octobre 22, 2012

The 'Pourquoi'

Pourquoi in french means WHY? Yeah, A1 is in this phase now. He asks 'Pourquoi?' for everything. Really for everything. It was sometimes just so hard to answer him. Even little things like me asking him to come to the table for dinner, he would ask 'Pourquoi?'. I replied: 'To eat dinner.' Him: 'Pourquoi manger?' (Why eat?) And 'pourquoi' for each reply I returned.
In the bathroom, he asked 'Pourquoi?' when I told him to take off his pants though he knew it was bathtime and the bathtub was filled with water. I know that kids asking 'Why' at this age is normal so we are being patient explaining things to him. However, some trival moments like those mentioned above can be tiring.

Since he started school, his speech has improved a lot. Yesterday morning, his father told him 'Vas chercher tes chaussons.' (Go look for your house slippers.) A1 came to me and said 'Papa say to look for shoes.' It was the first time I noticed him translating to me what his father just told him. I am delighted.

Today, he noticed the framed wedding photo and started identifying the people in it. He went 'Papi, Nainai, Papa, Maman. Where is me and ...' followed by his brother's name. It was too funny. We had to explain to him that they, the boys, were not around yet. Good thing he was distracted at that moment and did not ask that infamous 'pourquoi'. It would be hard to explain to a 3.5 year old how he arrived.

dimanche, octobre 14, 2012

No more diaper for A1

Since a long time, A1 does not wear diaper during the day. He goes to the toilet by himself and even forbids us to enter with him.

At night, it was different. He requested for a diaper. Many months back, I tried to toilet train him for the night when he woke up in the morning with a dry diaper two days in a row. However, he wet the bed on the second night and then insisted in wearing a diaper to bed. I could tell he was not ready.

With the house moving and a new school, I stored away the idea. School started in the beginning of Sept and friends had told me that kids could have wet accidents in the first few days of school due to confusion and stress or not daring to ask for permission to go to the toilet. A1 did not have any accident. Seeing that he was doing well for the day, I decided to make him go diaper free for good.

On 8 September, I told A1 that he was not going to wear diaper anymore for night time. He was alright with it. We assured him that if he wet his bed, it was ok. We made him go to the toilet every night before sleeping though he did not use it each time.  
I did up a chart and in the beginning, the result was discouraging. This was meant as a reward system for him but when I tried to explain to him, he was not interested. So I kept this chart for myself. A sun image meant that there was no wet accident while raindrops on the chart meant that the bed was wet on that night.

When he had three wet accidents in a row, I actually lost my cool and told him harshly to make a big effort. Though we had a washing machine and a dryer, it was no fun stripping the bedsheet and quilt cover and mattress protector each morning and to put them back again after they were cleaned.

At his second triple wet accidents, Seb and I questioned if A1 was ready. We decided to persevere as he was already a big boy at 3 years and 5 months old. Our persistance paid off when from the 24th day onwards, I drew a sun everyday. He was off diaper for good since 1 October. Yipee!

This diaper business is not over for me yet. I am starting potty training on A2. He would sit on the potty when I removed his diaper each time before changing a fesh one. Yet, the potty stayed clean while he warmed up the seat. I wonder when will I do a post 'No more diaper for A2'. I'm being patient. Maybe in a year's time? Or hopefully less.

jeudi, octobre 11, 2012

Well done, boys.

I am so glad. At last, the boys are adapting well; A1to his new school and A2 to his day care.
Since last week, A1 walked through the school gate by himself with a smile. We had progressed gradually from the beginning where he cried at home when putting on his shoes and again at the school gate where we had to carry him and passed him over to the teacher. After that, no more tears at home, just at the school gate. And after that, just being reluctant to walk through the school gate. Finally, entering the school by himself and turning and giving us (A2 and I) a big wave and flying kiss.
As for A2, since last week, he stayed from 9.15am to 12.45pm at the day care twice a week. He ate well for lunch and was always smiling and playing. As I left him this morning and walked out, I overheard the two ladies telling a new interne that A2 was crying a lot for a month and suddenly, he transformed and was enjoying himself at the daycare. The ladies were just as surprised as me as we thought it would take A2 longer to adjust. When I went to pick him up today, he was engrossed in his activity and did not even notice that I was in front of him.
Well done, my boys. I expected them to get use to their new environment one day and that day had come. A month to some might be long but I had no expectation.
The past two times, after picking up A2 from the day care, I drove by A1's school as I knew that the kids would be out at the courtyard after their lunch. I saw A1 playing happily with his classmate running around. Once it was raining lightly, the kids were out too. Ah, the french education. The french belives that kids should be outdoors be it rain or shine. And even when it snows so long as they are dressed appropriately and the rain or snow is not too heavy. If my mom sees this, I don't think she will approve it. I can imagine her reaction and remark. Just this thought makes me laugh. I better keep this detail to myself and not tell her.

dimanche, octobre 07, 2012

To Tutoyer or Vouvoyer? Always a dilemma for me

After 9 years in France, I still get a big headache each time I speak to french people I just know. I never know if we tutoyer or vouvoyer that person. Tutoyer is the informal way of addressing 'you' while vouvoyer is the formal way. In english, we get away with this as everyone is 'you'. In chinese, it is easy as all seniors are '您' out of respect and others are just '你'.

In French, for people whom we do not know but we deal business with in our everyday life like the butcher, the baker, waiters, cashiers etc... we use 'Vous'.
For older people, we usually use 'Vous' even if that person uses 'Tu' at us. We can tutoyer the person if he/she invites us to use 'Tu'. Same goes for boss at the workplace and sometimes even colleagues, teachers in school and neighbours etc.

My problem is that I can't distinct some grey lines.
I vouvoyer my in-laws. So naturally I vouvoyer their friends though some told me that I could tutoyer with them. Yet, each time, I could not decide on which to use. Sometimes, I could start with 'Vous' and then continue with 'Tu'.

Neighbours is another grey area. I have been vouvoyer all my neighbours. And I never paid attention if they vouvoyer or tutoyer with me. I realised it was becase each time a french spoke, I translated in my head from french to english. So when someone said 'Tu vas bien?', I would naturally processed in my head as 'How are you?'. I would answer 'Oui, je vais bien. Et ....' That was when I got stuck. My reply was 'Yes, I'm good. And ....' But which YOU to use in french? I had not listened carefully earlier if that person asked in 'Vous' or 'Tu'. So to be on the safe side, I would end with 'Et vous?'. I did not want to upset someone if that person 'Vouvoyer' me and I 'Tutoyer' back. Now, that person might think I was being a snob by using Vous. She might continue to use 'Tu' if she understood that I am a foreigner or she might revert to 'Vous'.

Recently, we invited our neighbours opposite for an apéritif (a pre-dinner drink). We had a good 2 hours chatting and getting to know each other. They have 2 young boys like us. After they left, I asked Seb 'Did you vouvoyer or tutoyer with them?' Seb replied 'I tutoie as they are our neighbours.' I was like 'Ah bon. I have been using vous throughout the whole time.' Gosh.

I decided to open big my ears now. So far so good. Once I was going to my gym class in the village multi-purpose hall, I met up with a fellow gym mate on the way. We exchanged bonjour and she asked 'Tu habites où?' I paused for 3 seconds before telling her which street I stayed cos I was processing on the 'tu'. She must think that after living here for a few months, I still could not recall my street name.

Another strategy I used was to wait for the person to start a conversation and zoned in on the 'tu' or 'vous' used. These could cause awkward situations as each of us was waiting for the other to start talking. At the school gate each morning and evening, I would say the usual 'Bonjour' to the other mothers. Sometimes, I waited until a mother asked 'How are you?' before replying and asking back in the same way. Most mothers use 'tu' at me which was a relieve for me. Now I have to note who to use 'tu' on and who to use 'vous'. I would certainly need a little black book for that.

On top of that, I would need to note down who gives bise (kiss on the cheek). That itself calls for another post.

This is a long post but as I told Seb, I could write a book just on this. I doubt I can ever adapt this usage of tutoyer and vouvoyer as natually as the french do.

samedi, octobre 06, 2012

The first fire in this house

We finally started the first fire last wednesday. It was rainy and windy outside. Seb was working from home and we decided to start a fire. The temperature in the living room was 20°C before the fire started. Actually it was not that cold to call for a fire but well.... we were tempted to start one since we had all the materials.

Once the wood was burning well and the room was heated up, the temperature went up to 24°C. There were ducts that transferred the heat to the rooms upstairs. We opened the vents on the ceilings to have the heat in the rooms. As the boys' rooms were directly above the living room, their rooms got heated up from 20°C to 25°C. It was too hot in A2's room.

The previous owners told us that their girls were in t-shirts and shorts during winter as the rooms were well heated by the fireplace. They saved on electricity bills as the electrical heaters were seldom used.

It is great to have a fireplace. I'm already planning to buy a pan to roast chestnuts and Seb is thinking of having baked potatoes. Will share photos of the goodies here so watch out.