Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Parenting. American Style.

Since it's July, which is a reliably tough month due to Alan's anniversary on the 5th typically followed by harsh heat and sapping humidity, I have indulged in torturing myself a bit more by reading a American woman's account of raising children in Paris.

Apparently we have much of "it" wrong.

We allow too much freedom, unruly conduct is rampant, children are treated as the center of the universe, they can't play alone and are force fed flash cards instead of being left to play. They over snack and never sleep.


There is some validity to aforementioned traits - definitely - but, please,
S'il vous plait,
cut us some slack.
We are not savages.
We're a warm, involved culture.

(Actually, I'm not finished.)

My girl has been "doing her nights" since four months, she plays independently for long stretches, she is schooled in a place that stresses the importance of play and socialization - and I think, that I/we are doing pretty damn well.
Oh. And we're not plunked in front of the TV with "My Baby Can Read".
Nor vying for schooling that offers Mandarin and computer skills.
(Though, yes, some are. Scarey.)

Could she improve her restaurant manners? Oui.
Could she embody rules and manners more ably? Bien sur.
We are working on it, and no, not to keep up with the French.

But I wonder if their way of farming off babes to the creche in their early months (not because they have to, because they want to), their point of view that parents and couples come before children, and their seeming lack of involvement with child's play is what leads to their reputation for "coolness" (and no I do not mean hip) and elegant detachment as adults.

Just wondering.

I will certainly admit that the way they do some things is beyond appealing. I strive to lose the guilt when I try to focus on myself, not Lily. I am envious that there is more ingrained respect for uninterrupted "Adult Time", and I find their rigidity of schedule for meals, snacking and bedtime FABULOUS.
I envy their free daycare and choice to do full-time daycare and take time off from work.
For themselves.


Honestly, I've take much of their approach to heart.
We're now working on the importance of a confident (and warm) "Hi" when we greet people - and put it up there with pleases and thank yous. And we're working on waiting and stretching our patience when we "need" something.

And yes, there is a simple cake recipe that they do with their kiddos that sounds delightful - so without a doubt, we will bake away.
Thank you France pour le gateau.
We will practice resistance Parisienne as we wait until afternoon snack time to eat it.

Vive la France!

Such discipline.

But do they ever cut loose? Dance with their kids on the carpet? Sing in public? Wear outlandish outfits - just... because?
We Americans love self discovery too, and we also set limits - but in our culture we may dote on our children a bit too much.
But we also live with unrepressed emotion and passion, and I think we, as a culture, are beautifully unique and expressive.
And showing love, baby, love ~ I'm all for that.
I don't think a child can ever be shown too much.

But we will wait for the cake.
And greet others with confidence.

Now remember Pumpkin, when they open the door we say "Hi or Hello" with a friendly voice so they can hear us.

Or we can just wave like this Mama (she says, smiling and waving Thanksgiving-Day-Parade style),
or - she cheerily suggests - we could just say


And no, I am not reading the book to Lily too.
We have Fancy Nancy to thank for that - a character the French would abhor.
Shudder to read.
(The books are pretty awful.)


Can't wait til the cake is ready.