Yesterday morning my Spanish class was a real headache; the teacher spent a couple of hours explaining the use of a verb structure to me that required not only a relatively complicated grammatical construction but also a philosophical understanding that was way beyond me.
In the evening I went in to work for my evening teaching sessions. What had originally looked like a free hour was assigned, at the last minute, to a young woman who had asked for extra tuition in preperation for an English exam. Her grammar text book was in Spanish but it was easy enough to understand. The thing she was having trouble with was "I wish" and the constructions associated with it such as I wish I had been there, I wish you could have seen him, I wish it were Christmas every day, etc.
Try as I might I couldn't find the logic or a simple rule to explain the construction to her. I'm confident that I can use the English faultlessly but the grammar book said that I was getting it wrong. Even worse my blundering description kept bumping into the way that the language she drank in along with her mother's milk deals with "unreal" situations. It was exactly the same difficulty that I'd had with my Spanish class but from the opposite viewpoint.
I came away feeling really depressed. Trouble understanding Spanish, trouble understanding English and maybe those grey suited men, and not my nephews, really do own our languages after all.