16 February 2016

Speaking English at a Czech preschool

Smalls and his friends from školka still seem to find us parents interesting.

Kája's mother, for instance, seems to attract a small crowd whenever she arrives, with many little hands desperate to touch the newborn she always brings with her.

I'm very impressed with her ability to simultaneous get her 3-year-old dressed and fend off over-inquisitive fingers.

'No, Robert, don't poke the baby's eyes.'

As for me, I seem to be known as Smalls's Mother Who Speaks English.

('But why does she speak English?' one mystified little girl asked her mother repeatedly yesterday.)

A few weeks ago, I dropped Smalls off a little later than normal and we were accosted by four little girls.

'Ahoj!' I said.

'Ahoj,' was chorused back four times.

Smalls wiggled behind my legs. I was momentarily confused about his sudden shyness, but then the onslot started - a series of questions delivered by the biggest of the four in Czech. Answers were briefly discussed among the group before the next question was fired off.

'Do you work?'
'What does Smalls's dad do for work?'
'Do you drive?'
'What is your car?'
'Is it true you speak English?'
'Are you pregnant?'

I stepped out of školka in a daze and fully intended to hide behind Smalls's legs next time.

However, Smalls seems to have decided that an offensive is the best approach. The next time I picked him up, he grabbed my hand.

'You need to say hi to my friends,' he commanded.

'That's Smalls's mama,' the friends authoritatively told each other as I walked into the room. 'She speaks English.'

'Ahoj,' I said (to show that I also speak Czech, of course).

'Hello,' one friend said slowly in English. 'I...am...Martin.'

A few other children queued up to try their English, which made me feel like some visiting celebrity.

'Hello!' 'Hi.' 'My...name...is...' they whispered shyly.

Finally, one of the bigger boys came over.

'You...' he said, narrowing his eyes as he tried to remember the right word, 'SUCK!'

Strike two, Robert. Strike two.

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