The bedtime routine for the boys has changed perpetually since we became parents for the first time in 2005. In it’s current guise I add a touch of bilingualism into the mix.

For one reason or another our eldest has always had trouble calming down at the end of the day, and so we’ve had to try just about everything, every tip, trick and old wives’ tale in order to get him to drop off to sleep. At present I find myself singing a melody of children’s favourites for ten minutes or so after lights out, at the end of which, if it has been a busy day for the poor little nipper, slumber is guaranteed … provided he doesn’t need a poo.

I’ve been taking this opportunity to brush up on my French nursery songs, to learn the words and tunes to mix in with the classic English ones I already know so well. What I try to do, is sing one English, then one French, keeping the same theme wherever possible. The current run-down goes something like this:

  1. Twinkle twinkle little star
  2. Petit escargot [Little snail]
  3. Incy wincy spider
  4. Gypsy araignée [Gypsy the spider – exactly the same story as Incy Wincy, but different tune]
  5. London’s burning
  6. Au feu les pompiers [Call the fire brigade – my Uncle set fire to the house]
  7. Three blind mice
  8. Madame la souris [Mrs Mouse – a tale about filthy rodents]
  9. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, once I caught a fish alive
  10. Les petits poissons [The little fish – swim just as well as the big ones]

One supposes that this should appeal to their bilingual minds … even if they have never EVER sung along with Daddy!