I arrived to pick up Reuben at daycare yesterday and was greeted warmly by his teacher, who seemed especially impressed with his contributions to class that day.
“Reuben told us about his language skills,” she said smiling, “Do you speak another language in the home?”
“Us?” I said, suddenly confused. “Um, no…”
Her brow furrowed. “Reuben told us he speaks French.”
“He what??” I said, incredulously. “No, he does not!”
She looked at me slightly aghast. “Oh, my goodness, we believed him!” she said, starting to laugh. “He seemed so confident about it! He told us the days of the week and the months of the year in French. We pointed to pictures of objects around the classroom, and he told us what they were in French. He had an answer for everything! We were going to incorporate his French into Circle Time every morning.” (Here I had a brief horrifying vision of ten little preschoolers coming home each night to teach their own families a new fake French word…)
“Oh, my God,” I said, shaking my head in disbelief. “I know maybe five words in French from high school. Reuben does not speak French!!”
Then, of course I realized what that meant. As amusing and bizarre as this all was, he had told a LIE to his teachers. Which meant that I would have to have a TALK with him. “Umm, we will have a talk about this…” I said hurriedly, as I gathered up his stuff.
Walking out to the car, I found it very hard to believe that his teachers had actually BELIEVED that he was speaking French. I mean, even if you don’t know the language, you’d think pre-school teachers would be able to tell the difference between an actual foreign language being spoken and nonsense words from the mouth of an over-imaginative three year old.
“Reuben,” I started, when were in the car, “Did you tell your teachers that you spoke French?”
He nodded proudly.
“Honey, you DON’T speak French!”
He smiled at me. “Yes, I do.”
“Reuben – if you know French, how did you learn it? Who taught it to you? “
He pointed at me.
“I didn’t teach you French.”
“Yes, you did.”
“OK, maybe I have taught you a word or two, like ‘hello’ or something, but I didn’t teach you enough French to tell your teachers that you know French. You need to tell the WHOLE truth.”
“But, I did that already.”
“Argh. Sweetie, you really don’t know French.”
But, it was pointless to argue. In his little pre-school brain, he did know French. He also owns a Monster House where the Incredible Hulk and Ironman drop by for visits.
“This is the fault of your genes,” I informed Josh later on that evening.
“Um, which one of us has made up a language here?” he smiled.
I rolled my eyes. “If you are referring to the language spoken by my collection of unicorns when I was nine – that was TOTALLY different” I argued. “Pretending to be fluent in a FAKE language is not the same as pretending to be fluent in a REAL language.”