It is with a mixture of feelings of homecoming, relief, dread, and anxiety that I am now back home with my family for a few weeks. As an ex-pat, I only get back to see my parents and sister every few years or so. Now, with the really young kids, the frequency has dropped a bit. And further, since the kids are being raised in a foreign country of which their mother, my wife, is also a native, language is becoming a problem. My son is 4 1/2 and a locomotive in speech, but only in French. I have spoke to and read to him almost exclusively in English since he was born, and he understands me, however he only answers and speaks in French. While in Paris, this is not a problem since I am the only English-speaker that he encounters on a regular basis. However, here, back home for me, it is creating an uncomfortable barrier between him and his American family. I feel a mixture of frustration and guilt because my folks are unable to understand his monologues in French and his insecurity seems to increase with respect to English. Of course, my folks are too old to be expected to learn French, and it seems that my son feels the pressure from me and especially here from my folks to make an effort in English. It is quite the seemingly insurmountable wall between the two sides of this equation. I am not sure whether I need to say to myself that he is still young and has years ahead of him to perfect his English or whether I need to urgently find a bilingual school (actually I already know where they are but each would imply moving house to get within striking range of them). Well, I think for now, I need to see if in the three weeks here, some progress will be made. And in the meantime, I need to try to relax and enjoy my vacation without this “décalage” making it stressful for me.
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