Madame Oui and I welcomed her sister and French husband to stay with us for an extended week, along with their two sons, aged three and one.
Ours isn’t the biggest house — or call that chateau — but between sofabeds and airbeds we managed just fine.
Pops and I met up with them at the airport. Thomas was on a vending machine toy, and I approached cautiously as I wasn’t entirely sure he’d remember me from last year. But he did, with a big smile, calling out “Alain!”
During the week, we went out for meals, played at Indiana Land, went to the Belfast Zoo, played at Delamont Country Park, and played some more at our local playground. Indeed, I purchased a big red wagon for this purpose, and was tickled to hear Thomas’ immediate reaction, which was, “I want to get inside.” Although he said it in French, a language I do not speak, it was plain to understand what he said.
Thomas and his brother are spoken to in French by their father and English by their mother. His primary language is French, but he understands English and will always answer you in French. Most of the time this isn’t a problem as there is a French-English interpreter about. But sometimes it was just Thomas and me, and my limited comprehension proved challenging for us both.
On one occasion, after me twice telling him, “Sorry, I don’t understand,” he paused, thought hard, and blurted back, “Dark!”; he was telling me why we needed to turn the light on in the garage. I reckon if I had to I could return the favour — using the appropriate French word — if I had to.
Thomas and I had a lot of fun — I have no problems going out to play. Evidence of our bonding came towards the end of the stay, with him sitting next to me, when he turned to his father and said (in French), “I wish I could speak more English to Allan.” Okay, for this I must do my part and learn more French.
Overall, it was great to have the Beattie-Boueilh family stay with us. Though if I am being honest it was a commune experience, informing me why the concept of communes never went mainstream!
But I do look forward to our next get together, when baby Robin — the most chilled, cool-cat infant I’ve ever known — is bigger and we can all play more together.