Old Dog; New Tricks

January 27, 2012 at 5:38 pm (Uncategorized)

There might be something to that saying about not being able to teach an old dog new tricks. Hell, it’s hard enough teaching a new dog new tricks (although Lester is quite adorable when he rolls over on command).

First, last October after enduring years of teasing (thank you comrade S. and I really mean that), I signed up for French classes. The group to which I belong is bi-lingual and produces a review in both English and French, and I go to Montreal several times a year including for the Anarchist bookfair in May. French is good. I struggled a little in the first session, but I’m persisting. The second session started a week or two back and so far it’s pretty good.

According to received wisdom, it takes seven years to become fluent in a second language. Acquiring a native accent in a second language after puberty is much harder. I’m resigned to the fact that I will never speak French sounding as a native speaker, but I do have aspirations to be able to carry on a conversation.

Second, my eight-year-old son is taking skating lessons. Every kid in Canada should be able to skate, but like many of the kids in the class, it’s not easy. In a good parent moment, I foolishly said, I’ll take lessons too, and so there I was. 

As I stood waiting to step onto the ice with my brand new skates and helmet, I wondered: Do I really need to be able to slide around on two thin pieces of metal on ice? Really?  I hugged the guard rail pretty hard for the first half of the class, but by the end of the first session I was walking across the ice. By the end of the second, I was almost skating. Needless to say, I was very pleased by my progress.

On the third night, I had my Icarus moment. I took two nasty falls on exactly the same spot. Point of impact: right elbow and right hip. When I got into bed a few hours later, I accidentally lay on my right side. It felt as if I had bene kicked by a mule. (Not having ever been kicked by a mule I can only imagine what it might feel like, but I’m pretty sure it hurts.. a lot. Four days after the lesson, my hip is a fine burgundy. And yes, it still hurts.

Still, learning  French and skating, could I get anymore Canadian?

A friend informed me that I could, but I’d have to be drinking a cup of Tim Horton’s coffee and carrying a beaver while skating to do it.

Yeah, and speaking French too, right?

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