Let me start by saying that I do like children…to a certain measure. I think it is fun to hang out with them and play around because every once in a while you learn something new and get to remember what it feels like to be a child.
Having that said, I play with them but once they start crying or being simply annoying, I return them to their mothers “hey, it’s your kid, your problem, not mine”. I’m very sweet, I know.
I recently read a book called “French Children Don’t Throw Food” by Pamela Druckerman, an American author who married an English man and now lives in Paris with her children. She shares her experience and how the French perceive everything differently when it comes to raising a child. Right after finishing this book, I said to myself “If I ever have kids, I’m raising them the French way. Even if I have to move to France!”. Why? I’ll tell you why.
I have a 5-year-old cousin (more like a niece because of the age difference, but still a cousin) who recently visited me. My aunt and uncle were in town and of course I invited them to stop by. The minute I opened the door, my cousin (James, from now on) didn’t even bother to say hello to me, he just rushed into my house yelling and running like a mental patient, while I greeted his parents. Now, this would be inconceivable for the French, as they teach their children to use the magic words “Bonjour Mademoiselle/Monsieur, Merci, De rein, Au revoir”; besides, if a child does this in France, he/she will be labeled as “mal élevé” which translates to: your parents didn’t brought you up properly. This is considered an ultimate insult to French parents, and as it should be considered by all parents, because…seriously. Whenever I tried to approach James, he would use his hands to cover his face as if I were a seven-headed monster that he’d be oh-so-unfortunate to lay eyes on. I also tried hugging him, but that only demonstrated his excellent skills in karate dancing/bullet dodging as I, in vain, attempted to embrace him. When he finally sat down on my sofa, I sat next to him and this was the conversation breakdown:
– Me: James, I have presents for you. Would you like to open them?
– James: NO!
– Me: I bought a really nice toy for you to play with..
– James: I have a lot of toys already (spoiled brat)
– Me: Well, you’ll have another one then
– James: I like MY toys.
– Me: Once I give it to you, it’ll be yours as well!
– James: I DON’T WANT YOUR presents. I like MY TOYS. You can keep whatever you bought.
That little fucker. I had to use all my strength not to sucker punch him. I went to my aunt and uncle and told them what happened and as we all sat down to talk, I grabbed Pamela Druckerman’s book and started telling my aunt all the wonders of French raising to avoid having ungrateful bastards around the house. By the tenth minute, naturally, she didn’t want to hear anything else about it (Of course, what mother likes being told that she’s not raising her child properly?) but as a nagging bitch that I am, I just looked at her and said “Well, you should really look into it. Buy the book. It’s never too late”. I thought she was going to have a fit right there. Hah!
My mother always told me that we are no one to judge other people and that specially, we should never tell another mother how to raise her child. However, when I walk down the street and see a mother with two fat (yes, FAT, not chubby) children eating junk food (pick your favorite fast food chain) or when I see cases like my adorable cousin or children that won’t stop yelling until they get what they want, I can’t help it… I JUDGE. With big eyes, smirks, or just a very disapproving face overall. It kills me that firstly, parents ALLOW this sort of behavior. I see parents giving their children toys, money, food, anything that’ll make them shut the hell up for the next 20 minutes (oh yes, 20 minutes if you’re lucky, they want more and more and more!). STOP conceding everything to your child! The French have a very clever phrase “C’est moi qui décide!” (meaning: I’m the one who decides!). Be the one in charge, don’t allow your kid to take over. And secondly, I understand how hard and frustrating it is, especially nowadays, when we have working parents and they wished they could give their children more attention, but if you made the decision to have a child, it’s really all on you. If you got ‘knocked up’, well, there are always options (definitely not talking about abortion).
My point is, there is no need to yell at your children, or hit them or even say “C’est moi qui décide!”, that’s just a personal reminder to you, parent. But do explain things to them, why they have the RIGHT to do something or not, children aren’t stupid, they understand you. Talk to them, and maybe, we can all hope for a better future, because, honestly, this generation doesn’t look very promising.