Save. Spend. Splurge.

Ask Sherry: On COVID, Bilingualism and Workplace Issues

You asked, and I am answering every Friday once I have enough questions!

You can ask any question using the form here.

You mention that your son hasn’t left the apartment in six months.

I know you’re being very Covid conscious so I was wondering if you literally mean he hasn’t left the apartment? Like – no walks down the street? No going for a drive? No going to the country so he can run around?

He has not left. Period. There have been cases in our neighbourhood, schools nearby, and I cannot trust that other children will be careful even if he is, and I am.

Parks and playgrounds have kids running around unmasked, coughing on everything…

In our building, no one said it, but I know for certain a few people (administrative) have gotten the virus and had to be on leave mysteriously for a month. I am not taking chances.

We live in a very densely populated area, and there are CONSTANTLY PEOPLE all around. It may seem cruel to keep him in (though I’ve taken him out on the balcony), but he isn’t upset at all, and I check in regularly with him.

We talk about the virus, I explain to him how Mommy also stays in, and Daddy too, we ONLY go out when it’s super urgent, and he gets it. He doesn’t want us to get sick, he doesn’t want to get us sick, and he most definitely doesn’t want anyone to die (you never know, I have had lifelong issues with my lungs).

He just wants the virus to be over for sure, but he is okay being inside.

The only thing he talks about is he just misses his grandmother (we normally go every year), and misses her house, being with her, etc. That’s all he wants. Aside from that, he’s normally a homebody, which is a lucky for us.

The way I see it, is I liken it to the World Wars. People had to stay inside, turn off their lights, use blackout curtains and never go out. Even worse, some had to hide in attics and never talk, make noise, nothing. They have it far worse than we do.

Hi Sherry, I know that you touched upon this subject before about jealousy in the workplace when people (mostly men, in your case) who make (not-so) subtle comments about how much you make for a young woman of color. But I’m not sure if you mentioned how you deal with people who probe in your business.

So, here’s my question: How do you deal with nosy people who pry in your personal business and ask you things such as “How much do you make?” or make comments which may coerce you to reveal personal information like “I know that you’re comfortable financially” etc. Other topics include, your relationships (or if you have any relationship problems with your partner), or if you don’t have a partner whether you’re interested in someone (i.e. if you seem to spend more time with a male colleague, they start suspecting that something is going on between you two).

Wow. They’re NOSY.

Sometimes these leading questions bother me. Full disclosure: I suffer from depression and anxiety and sometimes it really takes a toll. I also try to be included in the workplace and feel awful when I’m excluded and left out, but I feel like it’s a double-edged sword when I try to become friendly and start chatting and people just assume that I’m ready to divulge personal information with them.

I have never been asked this point blank “I know you’re comfortable financially”, and so on. Or how much I make.

Honestly, when they remark on how much consultants make, I just stay quiet. No one has been rude enough to ask me my billing rate, and if they ever did, I’d say to them: I cannot say, I’m not allowed to give my rate because I am through a broker and signed a confidentiality agreement.

(That’s not to say I cannot give my rate, but if they know my actual rate they can work out how much the broker is taking, which is also unpleasant for the broker and their relationship with me.)

If they say these things, just smile. Unless they ask you POINT BLANK how much money you make, don’t say anything, you are not obligated to respond to them in any way.

I also have another question: I hate being a free therapist to people. I understand that sometimes people just need to vent and I don’t mind giving them a ear once in a while, but I get really bothered when people come to me with their non-ending problems. How do you tell people “off” (be it friends or co-workers) without blatantly telling them “off”? Thanks in advance!

It’s because you’re being too nice. You’re the only one who WILL listen to them. Become that person who won’t.

How do I cite your page?

Just as-is.. Save. Spend. Splurge. with my website and/or my name if you want or not.

Hi Sherry! I know that you are raising a bilingual child. I too, but my child doesn’t have a parent with whom to practice the language of his school and adopted country, which makes it harder and slower for him to learn it. (In our case, both languages are neither English nor French.)

In the adopted country, he attended preschool (which was more like a playgroup) part-time for a year and a half and started school two months ago at age 4.

He is smart and speaks our native language very well, but he still understands little of the foreign language and doesn’t really make sentences. I feel sorry for him. The teacher can help him only so much, as she has many other children to attend to.

I know learning a foreign language takes time, but I wouldn’t want him to lag behind academically just because of the language. Socially and emotionally, I imagine it is also not easy for him. He doesn’t dare to approach his colleagues to play, except for a foreign child who also speaks little like him.

Any suggestions about how I could help him?

-Try to teach him myself with the help of materials (I am also a beginning learner) a little bit every day or a few times a week? (I’d have to make that fun as he sees it as work coming from me.)
-Hire a tutor?
-Go with him to a speech therapist?

Thank you very much.

Can I tell you from experience (and also expert experience from family members) that children will be fine / resilient and will pick it up as they get into a full-time schooling situation?

Kids learn the language via their friends the most. If their friends will speak French / English, that’s what they’ll pick up.

There are a lot of cases of people who have even spoken ONLY their native language until they were in their pre-teens, or mid-teens, and they STILL picked up the language after about a year of being immersed in a fully English-speaking environment.

Please do not fret.

You can of course, try and teach yourself a bit every day, make it fun, and so on, but you do not need to spend any money on this. He will eventually learn it, I promise.

Perhaps, make friends with other parents who speak the language? The kids will speak together and pick it up. Other children are very sweet when they’re young, and will see that your son doesn’t speak the language, so they’ll start slow with “Say Yes”. Or teaching them small words like “Yes” or “No”, as they’re playing, and then from there, learning longer sentences.

I truly, truly would not worry about this. I wish I could email you!

(I too, remember fretting that at TWO YEARS OLD my son barely spoke anything, let alone English even though I was talking myself to death. He ended up speaking at two and a half, and spelling & reading at 3…)

Maybe your son just needs time to be more comfortable in the classroom, and out of sheer necessity, and frustration to be understood, HE WILL learn the language if he is completely surrounded by it.

Still have a burning question?

You can ask any question using the form here and all of my previous Ask Sherry posts are here.



  • Catherine

    I have a suggestion for the reader above’s nosy-a$$ colleagues or family members. Usually when people as an awkward question, they know it, and usually count on you to take on that “awkwardness” by answering their question. I take the approach of calling them out, “that’s an interesting question. It’s quite personal – why do you ask” – smile, and wait for their answer. There might be an awkward silence, and I’d just let it be silent and awkward – this isn’t your problem to solve, so why bother? As a woman, I find that I can get away with saying almost anything if I do it with a smile.

  • A

    Regarding people asking nosy questions about income etc: fun fact is that it’s a rare person who will ask a question twice. People with high social IQ will not ask again when you shrug it off the first time! It’s socially awkward. Consider:

    Sooo how much do you make?
    – I get by 🙂
    Ok but how much do you make?
    – >.<

    Trust me it’s super awkward and people will rarely ask twice unless they don’t have a clue about social niceties.

    Another response you can give that is cheeky:
    -I’m flattered that you think we’re close enough to share such personal information! LOL

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *