Saturday, 15 June 2013

RAISING BILINGUAL CHILDREN: Not that kind of mum!

Piano practise

Yummy Mummy, the buzzword of the our time! It seems that women like me are meant to be running blue chip companies from our kitchen tables in between breastfeeding, making jam and growing our own herbs. It all seems like a long way away from my life! There seem to be three things that all homemakers are supposed to be good at:
Cooking
Sewing
Gardening

Well, I can't do any of these! OK, I've just about learnt the difference between the cooker and the microwave, but that's about it. I was the sort of teenager who burnt the toast and was terrified of spitting oil. When I learnt to make pizza (as an au pair), I was so thrilled that I practically lived on it the whole time I was a student.

My kids have been a bit luckier, as I've assiduously printed out simple recipes from the internet so I can at least make them something a bit more exciting than fish fingers from time to time, but I'm never going to be one of those mums who finds a use for that ice cream maker she got for xmas... Schmoo's Barbie birthday cake for her 8th birthday was, I'm ashamed to admit, the very first home-baked birthday cake I'd ever made. I've yet to reproduce the experiment for Pan-Pan, but no doubt I'll give it a go soon.

My mother is a fabulous sewer and has always made herself dresses from scratch. Whereas I used to get my thread in a knotted muddle on the sewing machine and when we were supposed to make a skirt for Home Economics I ended up with more of... well, I suppose you'd call it a piece of material!

As for gardening, forget it! Between me & Papa, we've killed off so many house plants that we were a little bit anxious about having kids! 'If we can't even keep a plant alive...', we used to mutter, looking at fragile little babies, who seemed to need a bit more care than plants. Luckily kids are also a bit noisier than plants and remind you loudly when they need food and so on. No forgetting to water them! We have always been famous for our 'minimalist' gardens, ie not a plant in sight! Our last garden had a single tree in it, that a friend not only bought for us, but actually came round, dug the hole and planted for us, as I think he realised if he didn't, it would end up rotting away as we wondered what on earth to do with that darned tree...

Still, I don't despair! I may not be good at 'traditional' mum tasks, but I have my talents and do my best to pass these on to my kids. For starters, there's languages. As you may've guessed by now, I love languages and, growing up, always dreamed of being bilingual. I've never quite achieved that goal myself, but at least I've managed to pass on this gift to my children.

Then I love anything crafty. Give me a cardboard box and some paint, and I'll show you a doll's house, a toy car garage, a puppet theatre... I spend a lot of rainy days on craft activities with my kids and as a result they are both really keen on making things, drawing, art, and so on. Sometimes I even do a bit of sewing with them..!

I also have a love of teaching... anything, really: music, reading, maths and so on. I'll happily sit through an hour of violin and piano practise, and get a real kick out of the tune slowly emerging. Ditto with the slow emergence of literacy & numeracy. I would be tempted to call this particular skill 'patience', except sadly it only applies to teaching, and the rest of the time I am counting seconds, snapping at the kids and tearing my hair out about running late!

I am super-duper organised! All of the children's toys, games, puzzles, art & craft supplies and books are meticulously arranged, labelled and tidied. This means that when the kids want to know what happened to 'that pink plastic watch I got from a party last summer' I can usually place my hands on it right away. It makes homework a breeze and playtime simple. I am that annoying mum who always remembers to pack her son's football kit on the right day and brings in a show-and-tell way before the deadline.

I am very determined (less kind people would say 'militant'!), which is what motivates me to be so scrupulous about the kids' language learning (all screen time in French, for example), and I'm sure this is the main reason they are successful bilinguals, despite me not being mother tongue French myself.

So there you have it. I am not the traditional mum with a rolling pin in one hand and a gardening fork in the other, but I do have other skills that I can bring to my family instead, which will hopefully make up for anything lacking!

And now I'd love to know... what kind of mum are you?!




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1 comment:

  1. Yes, support! Raising kids should be a mission, and every mission should have a clear blueprint towards some measure of progress. Learning languages is a start, heh, if that isn't the toughest one :)

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