Les Enfants Terrible, C’est Vrai: Are French Mothers Really that Much Better than Us?
North American women have been recently deluged by French female writers letting them know they drink champagne, eat foie gras and don’t get fat; bring up beautifully behaved children and don’t allow pregnancy and childbirth to disturb their looks whatsoever, and that a typical French night is spent in an outdoor bistro, with well dressed and charming progeny quietly entertaining themselves, eating haute cuisine and participating in meaningful yet respectful dialogue.
All of this done while they glance snidely over at the demanding and obnoxious American (or Canadian – who can tell – or cares), in their sloppy t-shirts and plastic gardening shoes, and requests for ketchup to put on their plain pasta.
Sometimes its just time to get real. C’est vrai.
I’m in Paris, watching an admittedly well dressed Mom, at an outdoor café, seemingly dropping in after a school pick up with her two daughters. While they are sitting quietly, there are some details which did not go unnoticed by this Mom. One of the daughter’s had an elaborate whipped cream topped hot chocolate (hmmm a food bribe to be quiet), while the other poured through a graphic novel and repeatedly kicked her mother’s chair. Mom herself was having a glass of rose and catching a quick cigarette.
In my hotel room, at least eight of the 20 channels were taken up by children’s programming, leading me to believe that there is a market for early morning children’s television. Who amongst us hasn’t set our kids in front of the electronic babysitter while we race around trying to make arrangements for the day, or at least pull a comb through our hair?
Could it be that the French are (gasp) just like us? Could it be that the hot chocolate is their Oreo cookies and milk, that their graphic novels are our unconnected iPads and that Mom grabbing a glass at an outdoor café is really any different than the quick chardonnay we throw down while making dinner? Is there a French equivalent of Phinneus and Ferb? Doesn’t the smoking, in one single stroke, wipe out any superiority feelings of parenting they might have?
Maybe not; after all, Mom did get to have that glass served to her, instead of serving herself.
Read Funny Mummy every month. Follow Kathy on Twitter @KathyBuckworth and visit www.kathybuckworth.com Kathy’s 6th book “I Am So The Boss Of You” will be published by McClelland Books in Spring, 2013.