My Most French Girl

I am struck by the fact that although Clémentine is the only one of my daughters actually born here in France, in the long run she may turn out to be the least French of all of them.

We’re still planning on moving back to Victoria, Canada next summer (2009) so by the time she starts talking, outside of our household and aside from the occasional trip back here to Burgundy, Clémentine will be living in an English-only world.

Charlotte was almost 5 when we moved here to Burgundy, so she still has lots of memories of our pre-France life in Canada. Like her parents she consequently suffers from a great deal of confusion as to where her “home” actually is.

For Camille there is not a shadow of a doubt; home is France. Petite and dark, she just so happens to look very French. She was only 2 when we moved here so when she started speaking fluently it was in French. She doesn’t remember anything from our life in Canada before we moved to France; Canada for her is a place where we go to visit family and spend vacations.

During our last trip we toured the school that the girls may be going to when we move back to Victoria. We were led into a classroom where a bunch of grade three girls were sitting in a circle on the floor eating their lunches out of paper bags.

Camille tugged on my pant leg. “What are they doing Mommy?” she hissed (in french).

“They’re eating lunch.”

“But why are they sitting on the floor?”

“That’s the way they sometimes do it here in Canada,” I explained.

“And why are they eating their lunch out of a bag?”

I realized that my middle daughter knows nothing different than hot lunches of a minimum of three courses (most usually four) served at a table on proper plates with proper cutlery.

“It’s like a picnic lunch,” I tried to put a good spin on it. “Wouldn’t it be fun to have a picnic lunch every day?”

Camille glowered. “Non.”

Shortly after we came back to France she let out a deep sigh of satisfaction while we were driving her to her first day back at school in Beaune.

“What is it Camille?” I asked.

“I’m just so happy to be home again.”