Achtung Baby: A Gigantic Mumfail

11/12/2011 16:50 | Updated 22 May 2015
Mother and child talkingRex Features

If you've ever made the howling mistake of Googling an affliction you've been suffering from and spent the next week convinced of your imminent demise, you may have some sympathy for my recent mumfail.

There are some brilliant websites about bringing up bi or multi-lingual offspring. Naturally, everyone has an opinion about the best approach. But there are pitfalls to this type of research. Theories are so multifarious it's all too easy to stumble into the realms of self doubt when reading about other parent's seemingly über-successful techniques. Boasting perfectly fluent, accent free, lingually gifted kids, they make my own child (who remains a selective participant when it comes to speaking English) appear deficient when she certainly is not.

One excellent website recently posted a list of 10 things you should never say to your bilingual child. Astounded I was, after having summoned up the courage to read it, to have only fallen foul of four of the taboo sentences. Going on usual form, I had predicted a "perfect" 10/10!

One thing not on the list was my personal speciality. Best summed up as "putting child under inordinate pressure to speak English on the telephone", of which, I am, embarrassingly, a repeat offender.

Last week Finje received an advent calender through the post from "Grandad England". I told her she should call to say thank you and, unforgivably, gave her no chance to prepare. She panicked after the first sentence, gave the phone to me and received undeserved admonishment for her "rude" behaviour. Ironic, as, all things considered, the only bad behaviour came from her mother.

I apologized, Finje forgave me as she always does and that was that.

Or so I thought.


Today we compiled Finje's Wish List for Father Christmas. Staying true to her nature the list was extraordinary. Included were not only such readily available items such as, a black baby unicorn and a dog with a small head but a big body (!) but she also had a few questions for Santa. Do you snore like a human being? Why doesn't your wife come with you? Is she scared of the dark?


And then, right at the bottom of the (long) list was the question which shattered my heart into tiny penitent pieces:

Can you magic it that all the people in England can speak German so I don't make mama angry when I forget my words?

Surely a mumfail of gargantuan proportions.


Achtung Baby
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