PARENTS

Achtung Baby Or Unexpected Hero

18/08/2010 17:10 | Updated 22 May 2015

Whilst sitting in the vortex of bubbling pleasantness that is the whirlpool at our local spa with around 25 Germans, undesirable thoughts of what I was actually simmering in were thankfully diverted by a huge Austrian bloke sitting next to me. He posed a question I get asked on a regular basis:

"Are you bringing your daughter up bilingually?"

I'm aware that those who ask have more than likely noticed the discrepancy in my communications with Finje. That being my speaking to her in English and her answering routinely in German. This is the reason for my standard answer which I accompany with a "well, what can you do?" (unattractive) facial grimace:

"Well, yes, we're trying."

What normally follows is one of two reactions. Either them telling me what a marvellous gift we are giving Finje and how lucky she is to have such inter-cultural parents, or tales of nephews/nieces/grandchildren who could speak 15 languages fluently before they cut their first teeth. The former is my preferred direction of chat, but I have devised coping mechanisms for both.

Before I could embark on the customary breakdown of our situation he'd fixed me with an "I'm-not-after-a-chat-I'm-here-to-provide-information" stare, which, quite frankly, coming from a Austrian in swimming trunks left no room for debate. He sounded a bit like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

I shut up.

So did Finje.

Impressive.

It turned out that his wife was also an "Engländerin". His daughter, now an adult, despite only being spoken to by her mother in English, refused to speak anything but German.

Until......she turned six! According to a man with whom I had no desire to argue, I should not "vorry" for "venn she becomes six years olt she vill suddenly begin to schpeak English vif you."

With that he removed himself from the water and strode off into the sunset in the direction of the saunas.

Finje and I looked at each other.

"See", she said (in German),

"I told you!"

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Achtung Baby
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