Given the size of our city, I feel really fortunate that there are enough francophone and francophile families to plan French Meetup playdates. I have probably been stalking this one particular bilingual Meetup group for about half a year. Sadly, the events were either: 1. exactly at nap time, or 2. it was too far (which relates to 1. because we’d inevitably hit nap time) or 3. it was for older children. Instead of coming across a little over-eager and lugging Ayo to the summer school activities they had planned, I waited for a more age appropriate activity. Today, the group organized a simple walk in some gardens to see the ducks, play in a pumpkin patch and watch the fantastical Mr. Rogers-esque mini outdoor train pictured on the right. We no longer had an excuse not to join.
It took a bit of coordination to figure out how I could make it, knowing that TM had an appointment at the passport agency to apply for a second passport twenty minutes before my play date was to begin, in another city. Having ‘only’ one car, we are starting to face more and more challenges like this. Thankfully, our midsized city does have some forms of public transportation. My playdate worked out thanks to a husband willing to be dropped off at the government office and hike to the light-rail station and then from our nearest station, to our house. $4 for a one way ticket is a lot, but it’s cheaper than a second car.
Ayo and I made it to the meeting point, where we met six families with varying levels of spoken French. Everyone had some connection to a French-speaking country. Each of them drove a compact car. But each family had its own approach to French in the home. One French mama speaks French to her kids, who go to an American school but understand Italian and Hindi through their father. Another is a non-native French teacher who speaks French with her kids, who answer her back in English. A third another mother speaks great French but only uses Mongolian and English to communicate with her daughter.
Ayo, being one of the youngest kids there, probably didn’t get a whole lot out of the playdate besides fresh air and getting off the hook for two naps. I on the other hand, actually left quite encouraged. It was really life-giving to get out and meet some more internationally-minded families. It was kinda like leaving my desert island to observe how other tribes do things and how they raise their own tribal babies. Sometimes it’s nice to see that other tribal mamas get car seat bruises on their forearms too. 😉