Samantha, princesse et francophone

Almost twenty months ago, our family was gifted with a most blessed appearance, that of Samantha. After numerous traumas in the family, Samantha was, as the proverbial saying goes, just what the Doctor ordered. It is always amazing to me that no matter how bad things can get, and they did, that something good can and often does happen. That is Samantha.

First grandchild for Mary Kay and me and she is doing what my first daughter-in-law, Laura did for the family, raised the bar very, very high for those who follow! We loved having children and we love having a grandchild.

It is always interesting how things go. I retired from teaching in 2007 and flowed right into two jobs, one of which I dismissed within a year, the other somewhat dismissed me just in June of this year. I am currently looking for something, late fifties is too young to retire and I am “pre-tired” anyway. Meanwhile my avocation and job is varied. Two days a week I get to spend with Samantha. Please note that I do not call it babysitting. I remember very vividly a conversation that someone had when my boys were young. A young dad was chastised by someone for saying he was “babysitting” his kids. She reminded him that they were, in fact, his kids and that perhaps “babysitting” was the wrong term

I view my spending time with Samantha as a privilege and an honor. So two days a week I get to spend time with her. We do all sorts of things, although that is tightening up now that the fall has set in. Samantha, as my boys were, is an outdoor girl. She likes nothing more than to sit down and feel the granules of dirt between her fingers. Her other favorite pastime is pushing her Grandmother’s baby doll in the little stroller. She almost always spends some time on the swing in the backyard as well. For several weeks, the boys’ old tent served as a great vehicle for fantasy play each day in the backyard!

This summer we had her just about every day. Mary Kay and I would take her to the “SprayGarden” as they call it in Deerfield. It has a rubberized carpet under your feet and all sorts of fun sprayers and a mini pool just for the toddlers to play in. It was a whole lot of fun.

Samantha has managed to turn around our border collie that was a major worry to us as she has never liked kids or being around them. We worked very hard at getting her to like Samantha. It didn’t hurt that Christian and Laura (Samantha’s parents) were very, very special to her. And, as we have found out, the fact that Samantha “feeds” Ali all the time with dropped food and also represents Frisbee time in the yard, makes Samantha’s arrival becomes a sort of treat for dogs!

Samantha and I get quality time twice a week, as I mentioned, but there is even more to mention than I already have. Samantha is a “francophone” child, that is, she is a French speaker. Thanks to the wishes of her parents, I have only spoken to Samantha in French since the very first day. She understands absolutely everything I say and is more than willing to repeat just about everything even though her main language to speak (just by virtue of the numbers) is English. It is an amazing experience and has certainly caused me to connect with all sorts of people who hear me speaking to her in French. As a French teacher, it is fascinating to see her language acquisition and ability to separate the two languages she is gifted with so easily. She has no fear of risk taking, doesn’t even know that she has the two communication vehicles.

To this day, her favorite word for Teddy Bear is “Nounours” and I am sure that, as time goes on, we shall learn of others.

One day we saw a clip of “Happy Feet” which Samantha was very enamored of. I got a hold of the DVD and I play it for her with the French soundtrack.

Meanwhile, I cannot say how happy all of this makes me. Samantha time is as blessed as she is, the fact that I can have a positive influence on such a precious, beautiful life.

To be continued…

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