French Lessons

We’re just sitting in the pizzeria, sweaty and tired in the way only vacations can wear people out.  The mom, the niece, the nephew, and me, waiting for pizza, sucking down soda, and staring off into space, deflated.  Well, not the nephew–he is four and wriggling, humming loudly and staring at the family one table over.  We are too tired to corral his rudeness.

He kicks the booth.  He rearranges his silverware, dropping it while making bomb noises. Ka-pow!  We ignore him, trying to become one with the air conditioning in the crowded restaurant.  The nephew does not give up, but he is forced to mobilize his last bastion of offense–words.

“I know what people in Japan speak.”

I look at him and blink.  “Is it Japanese?”

“No,” he says, looking at me with that mix of scorn and pity only preschoolers can properly portray.  “In Japan they speak French.”

“How do you know that?”

“I just know.”  Experience has taught me not to pursue most subjects beyond this statement.

“You know, chief, I speak French.  I could teach you some words.  Like bonjour–that means hello.  Can you guess what le nez means?” I point to my face.


Three words into our new game, the nephew is done and just wants to talk about various bodily functions in the form of knock-knock jokes.  This and Wii games comprise his conversational world, although apparently he is now taking a limited interest in world languages.  About a minute into his knock-knock soliliquy in which every punchline happens to be “fart”, I decide to intervene.

“Hey chief, do you know what firmez la bouche means?”

“Shut yer pie hole!”  The nephew is grinning at me like a madman.

I blink again.  “How did you know that?”

His grin settles into a sphinx-like expression.  The pizza arrives, and the conversation is done.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Stacey
    Jul 26, 2011 @ 12:28:20

    I loved his translation of fermez la bouche. Hysterical!


  2. the other ruth
    Jul 27, 2011 @ 00:50:00

    Smart kid! I enjoyed reading this–it’s a fun piece.


  3. Elizabeth G.
    Jul 27, 2011 @ 01:06:50

    That is SO funny! I am constantly amazed at the things that come out of my boys mouths. I hope that you are recovering well from your vacation. Great story!


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