I love the French.
I really do.
Not that my formative years in high school sitting in a language lab (taught by impostor native speakers) gave me much exposure to the French mindset.
You have to go to France to experience the French in their own habitat. It’s like looking at a crocodile in a small zoo enclosure. You know they are going to just sit there and maybe blink their eyes at you. You know there is a veeeeeeeeery slim chance that they will engage in any excitable action.
Three trips to France and I could go back another 300 times. The women are unbelievably beautiful, the men are sauve (they may dress a little too well for my liking) and the children are like miniature versions of their parents. Chic, sophisticated and well behaved.
Which leads me to my review of French Twist: An American Mom’s Experiment in Parisian Parenting.
Let me tell you a story about being a nanny here in DC first. I lasted 6 weeks and those were the most intolerable 6 weeks of my life.
The parents, the kids attitudes and the unrealistic expectations drove me insane. Mom Boss was a high up exec obsessed with fat free food and being in control of everything and everyone. Dad Boss was ‘in between jobs’ dabbling in business and venture capitals as well as hedge funds. Two out the three kids were highly strung, anxious, demanding, rude and insolent. The third child was a darling and the most ‘normal’ out of the family.
I was being utilised as a nanny, personal assistant and a last minute baby sitter. Mom and Dad then decided to change what they were paying me and would not give me tax forms so I told them politely that I would not be returning the following week. They had gone through 4 nannies in 6 months so they were going to have to move on and find number 5.
The defining “I want out” moment in working for this family was one of the kids screaming at me and having an absolute nuclear meltdown because I asked him to pick up a chore board he knocked over. I took away video games for the weekend and was then asked to negotiate punishment because that affected Dad Boss’s weekend because he wanted to watch golf in peace.
French Twist: An American Mom’s Experiment in Parisian Parenting highlights the following important points:
1) YOU are in charge not your children
2) No negotiating with any rules set such as bedtime, punishment or behaviour at the dinner table.
3) Children do not need to be praised, treated and encouraged for normal functioning and good behaviour. It should be expected.
4) If there is no blood, don’t get up – i.e. don’t react to every cry, scream and demand of your child. They are not the centre of attention.
5) Children are to address and acknowledge adults from everyone to friends of parents, neighbours and work colleagues.
6) Adult time is a normal part of a parent’s day and should be respected by children, not interrupted and hijacked.
7) Over scheduling of extra curricular over stimulates and exhausts kids.
8) Stay off “Mommy blogs”. They will only give you a sense that you are failing as a parent.
9) Toys in the house need a place which do not extend past the children’s bedroom.
10) Dressing well for yourself and husband should not be left to the wayside.
I am not a mom yet and do not claim that I am an expert in any capacity. Most points are common sense and quite old fashioned child rearing rules. I enjoyed reading it and would recommend it as a light read with some points that are worth paying attention to especially if you find your kids need a bit of French-ifying.
It’s available here at Amazon.