Saturday, March 17, 2018

Multilingual turtles

I was about eight before I became fully aware there were other languages. This is quite ironic given I was being brought up in a house where I was expected to speak standard English despite the fact that my parents spoke a mix of English and Scots and my grandparents spoke fully in Scots. It never occurred to me that a standard English speaker could conceivably have an issue fully understanding a conversation such as the one referenced on Twitter today by David Leask:

My children are, of course, living a different life. They have heard a minimum of two distinct languages every day since they were born - English first alternated with French, then by the time Léon came on the scene Danish had been added in. All the while Scots was still in the mix, of course. When Thomas's parents visit, German is added in around the dining table, and sometimes Schwäbisch too. When we visit them at their home in Tuscany, Italian is dropped into the mix and at school Spanish is on the agenda too. The TV intermittently gives us Swedish, Norwegian, Icelandic and even the odd movie in Georgian. 

With this backdrop, I found the three youngest this morning on my bed playing with the turtles Marcel had brought them back from a lads' holiday to Greece when he was 18. (Or rather the girls were playing and Léon was humouring them with his presence...)

Do your turtles have names? I asked, nonchalantly. 
Of course, replied Amaia: The baby is called Fuki... 
Fuki? I enquired, Like F-U-K-I? 
NO! It's pronounced FUKI but it's spelt with the funny letters in your Greek dictionary! He's Greek you know, so you can't use our letters for his name. I looked it up - his name means 'Seaweed'.
What about the other two?
I looked up 'Coral' for the mummy and 'Zesty' for the daddy, so their names are this: 
and she proceeds to write and slowly read:

Baby φύκι,  
Mummy κοράλλι and 
Daddy ζωηρός

I'm not sure many eight-year-olds look up an English-Greek dictionary before naming their soft toys! I do think growing up bi-/multilingually gives you a very different outlook on life!

It's all Greek to him

Thomas and I are working on a Greek project at the moment. This means we have Greek dictionaries lying around in the living room which in turn means nosy little children happen upon them. Léon took a real interest in his first encounter with a non-Latin alphabet language, and his initial reaction to it all definitely lightened the work atmosphere on Friday afternoon.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Gourmet food

I'm sitting reading my book:
Léon: Come on, mum ! I need you to be my sous chef. 
Me (ooooh, this sounds promising): What are you making?
Léon: a bramble jelly from the Polish shop, I can't read the instructions!
What a let down!

So here we have them - a fairly successful 'kiwi' moomin, and a not so aesthetically perfect 'bramble' lump!

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Whiteout madness

I'm getting dressed in my bedroom (with the blackout blinds down) listening to the kids happily eating breakfast in the dining room next door. Suddenly Anna comes out with '...if we even get there', which I think is an odd comment given school has been back since yesterday, now all the snow has gone. I dive through topless, wearing just one sock and stare in horror - it's back, and it looks a damn sight worse than last week, or to be more precise, it's probably the same as last week (though it is still actually snowing heavily which it wasn't on Thursday and Friday), the difference is the council has opted not to shut the schools so the gridlock is starting. 

I jump onto Whatsapp: 35 new messages - not a good sign! Reports come in from parents who have been stuck for 50 minutes and have moved one kilometre. Buses are stuck, cars are abandoned. As people get out to push cars that are stuck in front of them, others try overtaking on blind corners tooting in disgust. I stand on my dining room chair to watch over the hedge. In less than five minutes I see three cars get stuck, two overtake dangerously, one lose its back end and skid onto the pavement and not a single bus (on a normal busy bus route). I decide I am not taking my car. After 33 years behind the wheel, I know I can drive this, but I can also see that not everyone else can and I sure as hell am not going to risk it, besides, I'm at the bottom of a cul de sac that doesn't get gritted except in emergencies so I have half an hour of digging just to be allowed to join that queue on the photo. 

Next I consider walking and, to be honest, would have had it not been snowing heavily. It takes me exactly 45 minute on foot to get to school on a sunny day and I do do that, but in this, I'd add at least ten extra minutes for weather and ten more for the length of Amaia's legs. 

Over an hour walking in this means taking a complete change of uniform with me as the girls will both be soaked. It is a 2 hour round trip for me to drop them and another 2 hour trip to pick them up and that's assuming school doesn't close in the meantime and call me to pick them up early. So I decide, it isn't worth the hassle. It's only four days since Amaia got over a cough and cold and half the class has already told me on Whatsapp that they've thrown in the towel, so they won't miss anything vital that they won't need to repeat. I'm not walking it till the snow stops.

That leaves the biggies. They can probably get to school in about an hour if they start walking. Again, they'll get soaked, but at least I don't need to accompany them. The school uniform (inc blazer and black leather dress shoes) is compulsory so they need to wear something else and change when they get there but that necessitates carrying a bag of clothes on top of carrying their bags and fighting through the snow for an hour. On arrival, they have nowhere to store their wet clothes - s6s are not eligible for lockers so Lots doesn't have one. Friends on Whatsapp are telling me school is a ghost town. I then get a text from high school telling me the buses are unable to run so the (approx) third of the pupils who come from Eaglesham have not made it in. It's at times like these that I wish Scottish schools looked more towards Scandinavia for school attire rather than basing compulsory uniforms on the London climate...

The M77 is at a standstill, friends are tweeting they haven't moved in 90 minutes. Everyone who is already on the road is saying not to add to the chaos. But parents who were off last week are so scared of phoning in to work to say they are stuck, that they are attempting the impossible. Some are getting there, but more by luck than by sensible decision-making.

A friend who was up much earlier than me has seen the gritters do their rounds around 5am, followed by extreme rain that has washed it all away, then heavy snow - poor council workers will be getting the usual abuse for that, no doubt.

I decide to reassess at later in the morning. Next, I see our station on the BBC page, I decide I should maybe consider throwing in the towel for the day.

In the meantime, I see an absolutely terrifying message on Whatsapp (complete with photos). A friend (the mother of one of Amaia's best friends) has tried walking her kids to school as she is much closer than us. A school(?) bus has missed a corner, skidded onto the pavement hitting a pole, and missing her daughter by less than a metre. A bus!!! Take that in - kids walking the school route narrowly missed by a bus skidding on the pavement. I am beside myself at the thought of what could have happened this morning. It takes my breath away, then I get angry. Sorry, guys, you are now not walking to school if it's this dangerous, decision taken. I am so glad Amaia still has all her friends in one piece and am sending e-hugs.

I then see a further message from another mum who has actually managed as far as her work approximately 13km from here and has been told off for being late(!) and asked for photographic proof that it is actually snowing as it isn't there!!! The words fuck and off spring to mind. Sorry, shaming people into driving in such dangerous conditions is insane. This needs sorting out.

Around lunchtime I decide they can build a snowman instead - call it a science or art lesson - I don't really care.

It has stopped snowing now and started to melt and odds are that I will get them to school tomorrow but when did the world go so mad? What most of us do (I don't mean doctors and the likes) is not crucial. We can do it from home or we can do it tomorrow. It is not worth risking life and limb for. Today was utter madness because when people are told it isn't a snow day they are so terrified of not turning up at their office or shop that they feel compelled to endanger themselves and others. We need to build some more pragmatism into life and start analysing what's actually important!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Wedding anniversary whiteout

Here's a photo of me with all my kids (then) on my wedding day, nine years ago today. No, I don't know what Marcel is doing to Léon either and I'm not even sure I want to know!

Although we'd been living together for a number of years, we had not got round to marrying before then (something to do with my ex-husband refusing all attempts at divorcing him, but that's another story!)

Today Thomas is having to work from home, rather than Edinburgh where he should be, because of this major snow lock-down in Scotland (and much of Europe). I was postulating over lunch that had our wedding been today rather than then, it would not have happened. Glasgow has shut all its schools and museums so I expect the registry office is also shut. We'd have got some cool photos, mind you!

During this conversation, Anna pipes up: 'Do you still have the dresses Charlotte and I wore at the wedding?' I think I saw them in the wardrobe recently, so I say I do and she immediately asks if she can have them for her kids to wear at her wedding! Charlotte then tries to gently point out that it isn't really the norm to have your kids at your wedding in this country and Anna, sweet and naive, looks terribly upset and asks why people would consider not even inviting their own kids to their wedding 'Surely they don't just leave them at home?' she sobbed! You've got to laugh! Charlotte finally spelt it out to her 'Most people live together, then get engaged, then get married, then have kids'. 

Anna's reply? 'Well, that's just weird!'

Amaia's reply? 'I still think you were selfish getting married before you had me. That makes me the only one of your kids who you didn't invite to your wedding!' 

Funny! I think we have some rather unorthodox kids in this family.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Robin Hood