Since my little man was born, my life has revolved around him, which to my mind is a good thing. I want to be the best possible parent I can be and nurture and raise a confident, sociable, outgoing, thinking, caring person. And I think I’m doing a good job so far. But the little chap starts school in September and is becoming more and more independent every day. Soon he will be somewhere else for a good part of the day and he won’t need my time during those hours. So I’ve been thinking for a while now about what I’m going to do with all that time that I will suddenly have to myself. There is huge potential for just aimlessly drifting and I’m keen to avoid that situation. As we all know, if you aim for nothing you will hit it every time and apart from having our little chap, which was a major achievement in itself for all sorts of reasons, I feel as if I haven’t achieved a single thing since then. I know this isn’t strictly true, because raising small children involves learning new skills and tricks every day, not to mention gaining little insights into traits, strengths and capabilities. But that’s been for him; I haven’t achieved anything tangible for me.
So last September I hooked up with Kate on Thin Ice, who’d begun a blog hop to help her sort out her own life and generate more meaning and purpose. I found some of the ideas and suggestions to be very useful and began making my own small changes. I began a course in Italian at evening class, signed up to a few inspirational blogs, joined a book group and began taking my health and fitness a little more seriously. Sadly I didn’t manage to get to all the Italian classes and I miss a few book group meetups, but as one of my friends said, for several years my attention was all on my little chap but now he’s past the baby stage my attention is only just turning back to the wider world again. As these were my first tentative steps back into that wider world, I don’t think I’ve done too badly. And as Kate says, even little steps in the right direction all help to make a change. But now I think I need to make more radical changes to my life.
So here is my new project. I’m going to learn the French language, and everything I can about French lifestyle and culture. The reasons for this are several. My little chap is learning French and I don’t want there to be a time where he is better than me and I don’t know what he’s talking about. I took the O level at school and I was actually quite good at it myself at that age. I’ve never taken it any further until now because it seems that French is everyone’s first choice and I didn’t want to be doing what everyone else was doing. But I’ve got over that feeling and Mandarin or Russian are now popular choices too, so I don’t feel so much like I’m following the herd. Also I’ve never continued it because I’ve found some French people to be quite disdainful of foreigners’ attempts to mangle their language, whereas the Italians or Greeks, for example, are a little more forgiving and are happy that you are at least trying it. I had a bad experience at the Eurostar station in Lille once (where there must be many, many tourists, not just English ones). I’ve also come to understand that I do like my Gold Stars for Effort (thank you Gretchen Rubin for that insight) and I was making a big effort on that occasion and receiving zero recognition for it. But then I thought about how some Londoners can be quite disdainful of visitors to our city who struggle to make themselves understood, and having lived in London and the South East for many years, I’m now quite used to being on the receiving end of a bit of disdain myself. But I seem to have grown a thicker skin all round in recent years, and what the heck, if you can’t beat them, join them! I’m going to learn their language and I don’t care how bad they consider my accent to be!
So in future weeks, I’m aiming to write some blog posts related to all things French. It will be virtual exploration, hopefully with a bit of real intrepid travel thrown in so that I can practice my new skills. We are only around 4 hours from Paris here (not taking into account time differences), from my front door to stepping off the Eurostar train. Lille is only 3 ½ hours away. Even by ferry we are only just over 3 hours away from the French coast, so it seems almost rude not to take greater advantage of that.
If anyone has any pointers for me or details of anything they think might be interesting, do let me know. Let’s see what occurs! Bon voyage.