Our Family’s (2nd) Year in the South of France
Kids and Castles - Our year with kids in the South of France

Category — Kids

To DS or not to DS?

I know it’s RIDICULOUS, but one of the big decisions to make for this trip to France was whether or not to buy a Nintendo DS for each of the girls.

(What is the plural of DS?  DSes? DSs? Many DS? DI?)

Under normal circumstances, I probably wouldn’t get a toy like that for my kids until they were a bit older. Not that I think there’s anything wrong with video games for 5 and 6 year olds, but I wasn’t itching for the daily battle about “screen time” to expand any sooner than it had to. We have reached a pretty good place with our “TV-turning-off” skills, so having obtained “screen-peace” for at least a while, I wanted to savor that.

But we will be doing a LOT of traveling over the next year, and the DS does have a rather remarkable battery life, and it is more interactive than the DVD player (justify, justify, justify…)  so I decided to go ahead.

Z Playing Super Mario Brothers on the Flight to Saskatoon

Z Playing Super Mario Brothers on the Flight to Saskatoon

It’s turned out pretty much exactly as I expected – with one notable exception. The kids spend hours happily playing with them on a plane or in the back of the car.  It’s a good thing.  Plane rides are hard on little people. And on the flip side when we’re not traveling, we do fight about how much they can play.  I’m sure we’ll figure that out with time, but right now it’s driving me crazy.

The Exception: I didn’t realize that *I* would have to learn the games so that I could teach them how to play.  And I really didn’t expect that I would get hooked on Super Mario Brothers. This is frankly embarrassing for a woman who is turning 40 to say, but that is a really GREAT game. I missed it 25 years ago when most of my generation went through that phase, but I’m definitely a fan now.  Thankfully 25 years later we have the internet with “guides” and “cheats”. I didn’t even know what a cheat was two weeks ago.

Now my problem is waiting for L to go to bed so I can get my turn playing, or convincing them that they need Mommy’s help to get more “fire guys” during their allotted playing times. And I must figure out how to get the kids to sleep on the plane so I can get past the second world before we get to France.

August 19, 2010   8 Comments

The Children are NOT Helping

The kids are old enough to sort-of understand what it means to go to France for a year, but not completely get it. We’ve had a lot of lead time on the trip, so we are trying to prep them bit by bit. One part they really aren’t getting is the “helping Mommy with French” part. (They are both fluent in French, and I’m not.)

Last summer we vacationed in Quebec.  It was an amazing trip. The province is very beautiful – especially in August when the blueberries are ripe and the mosquitoes are mostly dead. I was at the beach with L and Z playing a game where I was picking them up and throwing them in the water when a little girl came up and spoke to me in French.  I was pretty sure that she was asking me to toss her in the water too, but it’s the kind of thing you want to be COMPLETELY sure about. So I asked L to help me understand what the little girl wanted. She turned to the girl and said “Ma maman ne parle pas français”  (My mom doesn’t speak french.NOT HELPFUL!!!

L and Z at the beach in Quebec

L and Z at the beach in Quebec last year

After that experience, I figured I needed to prep them so they might be more useful in a similar situation when we are in France. But it’s backfiring.  Instead they have become convinced that I’ll never speak French and are saying things that are downright discouraging:

  • Z:  “Mommy, you’re going to struggle in France because you don’t speak French.”
  • L:  “How will you talk to anybody in France. You won’t be able to buy food without Daddy’s help.”
  • And Z’s latest helpful idea:  “Maybe you can teach the people in France to speak English”.

The children have no faith in me.  Sigh.

July 23, 2010   5 Comments