Language of Miss Understanding

Feb 23, 2005Family Uncaged

I would like to call myself Miss Understanding. Sure, I know I’m a Mrs., but my title won’t be nearly as fun if I go there. Besides, I still feel like a Miss.

I am an American living in France, surrounded (obviously) by French speakers. Yesterday, I met with Julia’s teacher. I hoped to have my friend with me for interpretation purposes, but she couldn’t pull away from work. So, I went.

I truly enjoyed hearing the beautiful language of French come from Julia’s teacher’s mouth. So lovely! But, as I am not yet fluent, I could only snatch bits and pieces of meaning. She could have been saying that Julia is a vampiress or that she ate a toad today, and I would be nodding and smiling, responding with “Je sais.” (I know). She must think I am a total idiot!! And then, when I talk, Julia’s teacher leaned in with a puzzled look on her face. I said really intelligent phrases like, “Julia was to talk in America” and “Julia is nice in the class?” and “She understands French, I think.”

How frustrating to make my living (sort of!) with words, and yet have the vocabulary of a French toddler!

Then, I came home from my meeting only to find out mean girls tripped Julia on the playground and she had a contusion on her cheek. “It bled and bled,” Julia said (no rhyming intended). “I ran to Aidan. He helped me get to the librarian. Then she gave me three pills.”


“Yeah, three pills. She said they’d make me feel much better.”

I hoped they were tylenol, but in that moment I missed America and longed for the ability to communicate clearly with Julia’s school. Not only am I Miss Understanding, but Miss Communication. (And for those of you who are curious, I’ve never been Miss America.)

The pushed-down-playground-pill incident just cemented the fact that I can’t control this life. I can try, sure. I’ve realized that with my twin identities of Miss Communication and Miss Understanding, I am in a beautiful place: the place where I know my deep need for Jesus.

The place where I live far outside my comfort zone.

The place where I realize that my children are not my own, but His.

The place where I am learning dependence and humility and trust.

It’s really a gift, living in France. It is difficult, exhilarating, tiring, surprising, but it’s still a gift.

I just hope I don’t Miss Understand the Gift.