‘Weee weee!’, announces Tadpole, finally tiring of the tissue she has been shredding into fifty-seven tiny pieces for the past five minutes.
‘You want a wee wee sweetie?’, I ask, having acquired the annoying habit of repeating everything Tadpole says in order to reassure her that she is being understood and improve her pronunciation. ‘Well, if you don’t want to do a wee wee in your nappy, why don’t we try sitting you on the potty?’
Tadpole is nineteen months old and I am in no hurry to go through the inevitably messy process of potty training, but as she has suddenly become very aware of the workings of her bottom (i.e. shouting ‘big poo’ while we are having a leisurely brunch in a local restaurant) a potty has been purchased and sits expectantly next to the toilet waiting for her to take an interest in it.
‘No potty. Wee wee!’, repeats Tadpole petulantly, as she doesn’t like not getting what she wants immediately. I sense that the rising intonation of her voice may indicate an imminent tantrum.
‘I’m sorry, I don’t understand what you want me to do,’ I reply, bracing myself for the piercing screams which are sure to follow. ‘Do you want me to change your nappy? Is it dirty?’
‘No dirty. WEE WEE!’
Tadpole glares at me, a glare which can be translated roughly as ‘mummy I can’t believe you can be so stupid. Are you sure you speak English?’ and storms off to her bedroom. She returns clutching a book, which she thrusts into my lap.
‘Wee Wee!’ She cries triumphantly.
It’s an Enid Blyton book. Noddy. One of the modern Golliwog-free ones where Big Ears and Noddy sleep in separate beds and Mr Plod does not make quite such liberal use of his truncheon. Known in France as ‘Oui Oui’ ( ‘Yes Yes’). I manage to suppress the urge to bang my head against a wall repeatedly. But only just.
Raising a bilingual child requires levels of patience I am not sure I possess.