(image nicked from amazon)
In that case, what is that caked all over my kitchen wall?
I read this book with interest as a Brit living in Snail-land and bringing up a pair of half bulldogs- half frogs.
Pamela Druckerman attempts to answer some interesting questions:
“How do the French manage to raise well-behaved children and have a life?” – I’m not sure they have any more of a “life” than anyone else, if anything I think babysitters are less common here, certainly younger ones as is seen as the norm in countries such as the States. Recently I became aware of the cultural difference after having a heart attack upon finding out my 12 year old daughter and her friend had been left responsible for younger children while spending the weekend at friends’. Myself and half my friends were surprised to say the least, while the other half, of American and Nordic stock couldn’t understand what the fuss was about, but I digress.
“How come French babies sleep through the night?” Mine didn’t sleep nights for years, not months, obviously the Anglo-saxon side of their natures.
“Why do French children happily eat what is put in front of them?” – OK, she’s got a point here, probably because they are expected to, as do many English children I should imagine. Also, as Druckerman mentions, there really isn’t the snack culture in France that is present in the UK, no-one would dream of a quick bacon butty on the market (more’s the pity).
“How can French mums chat to their friends while their children play quietly?” I wouldn’t go as far as to say “quietly”, but it is true that children are encouraged to be independent, be that in play or other aspects of life, mine for example, and their friends, are allowed to go to the nearby playground unaccompanied, just as we did as children, but not visiting friends’ children I notice.
“Why are French mums more likely to wear skinny jeans than tracksuit bottoms?” There may be less opportunity to indulge in a fried mars bar this side of the Channel, but believe me, the bottoms are there. As are other things that Druckerman claim to be missing from French life, children’s menus in restaurants, fast food etc. all have the same place in our lives as those living in the UK I should imagine.
Obviously with a book like this, the author can only speak from personal experience, and experience of living in Paris at that. As with any aspect of life and parenting, there are as many examples as there are parents. Also, as the author points out, it is easier to go with the cultural flow surrounding you, I’m not sure that the “French way”, if it does exist, would be as easy to implement anywhere else.
I had to give a wry smile upon finishing the book yesterday, after having visited French friends for dinner, where, even my son was provoked into declaring afterwards that the children were REALLY NAUGHTY , he wasn’t wrong.