January 29th 2009
For weeks now I have been asking Issy if she wants to invite a schoolfriend over for tea. She is a confident, feisty little monkey but she is still struggling with friendships at school. All I want is for her to have two or three girls she can call friends who don't blow hot and cold all the time (I know this is common amongst nine-year-olds but the guilt at taking her away from her very happy school life in Hertfordshire has still not left me.)
Her response is always, let's wait until the summer when I can speak fluent French. Apart from reading out loud to me from her school books, I have never heard her talking French as she refuses point blank to repeat anything she has learned at school. This from the girl who will perform a fully choreographed dance routine to Girls Aloud's The Promise in front of anyone who will watch. Last week, one of her friends Laura walked to school with us so I took the bull by the horns and invited her for tea. I expected Issy to go mad at me but she seemed quite happy that I had taken the initiative.
Laura speaks no English at all so I told Issy that I would be on hand to translate anything she didn't understand and make sure Laura was happy. We got home and they both ran off upstairs for a while before coming down to make a cake together. They spent the afternoon chatting away, Issy speaking in perfectly accented French, while I tried my best not to eavesdrop and to hide my surprise at the fact that my daughter, who arrived seven months ago with no language skills whatsoever, can now hold her own confidently in French.
When Laura left, I said, I thought you said you can't speak French? She grinned and showed me her latest dictees, which were all marked 'bravo' with 19 or 20 out of 20.