The other day, I had to stay home with the boy I babysit because he was “sick.” He had truly been sick the day before, but it was clear to me that he was well enough to go to school. He insisted that he needed to stay home, so I was stuck. It was frustrating for me, since I had things to take care of and the sun was shining. Funny enough, I used to stay home from school all the time when I was little – I guess that was karma coming around to bite me in the ass!

Despite my annoyance at the circumstances, we had a great time together. We played Scrabble, allowing both French and English words. This is now my new favorite way to play – it really opens up your options! It was a great game for us to play together because we both learned some new words. I learned the word for “burp” – un rot, and taught him the words seam, nub, and yam.

After the game, I made him practice the piano because he was definitely not sick. While listening to him play, I started doing some yoga on the carpet. He wanted to join in so I began teaching him some poses. Sidenote: kids are so flexible, it’s annoying! We did some crunches together and he helped push down on my knees while I was stretching out my legs. I like getting paid to work out! 🙂 We were hanging out on the floor cooling down, talking about the splits, and he remarked that it would be much easier to do the splits if you had a seam for a leg. I was so confused until I finally realized he had mixed up “seam” and “nub!” Oops! We both cracked up imagining a seam on someone’s leg.

I’m proud of him for trying to use new words in conversation right away! I doubt he’ll ever mix up those words again, now that he has a fun memory to go along with them. I have made similar errors countless times since I moved here. Making mistakes in French has allowed me to learn and retain far more than if I depended solely on my flashcards. (My friends’ mistakes have been cemented in my mind as well. I’ll never forget my friend Kelly’s mistake of asking friends of her bf whether they were going to cook something à poil [naked] instead of à la poêle [in a frying pan]. Poil and poêle are pronounced the exact same way {pwal}, so that little “la” made a big difference. Eek!)

Perhaps this can be applied to life in general as well. After my recent visa debacle, I am so much more aware of paperwork and fine print. As I embark on another semester of school, some travel, and then deciding what to do next fall, I will try to remind myself not to fear the mistakes that I will surely make, but just remember to learn from them and hopefully not repeat the same ones twice!

If you have similar language mess-up stories, feel free to share in the comments below.
It’s embarrassing but you might as well laugh it off!


4 thoughts on “Scrabble

  1. My memories are dim of those many mistakes I made in my year in Paris, but Dad remembered the hilarious scene in Love Actually where Colin Firth attempts some kind of language exchange with his new housekeeper and has the caretaker mocking him.

  2. Your poil/poêle experience is such a perfect example of what it’s like to be an expat in France. I’ve made plenty of those embarrassing blunders. Once instead of “chair de poule” (which is “hen’s flesh” and means goosebumps) I said “peau de poulet”, which translates into “chicken skin”. My wife erupted in laughter. I had gotten the general concept correct but I’d missed the expression by a mile, haha.

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