Wednesday, July 25, 2012


As I mentioned in my anniversary post, we are working on a list of resolutions for our second year in Paris.  In addition to some pretty basic ones - explore new neighborhoods; try more restaurants; hit up some of the regions of France we've yet to visit, with Bordeaux and the southwest being high on our list - I've wanted to find something that would help me develop a different or further appreciation for France.

Throughout the year, I've been sent (multiple times, usually) links to various articles about Pamela Druckerman's book, "Bringing Up Bebe" which is about, generally, French parenting versus American parenting.  I've managed to develop my opinions about Druckerman's perspectives without ever reading the book.  Was this because as an expat mom in France, I felt above needing to read this book?  Was it some small amount of envy that this former Wall Street Journal reporter wrote the book that every American mom in Paris wants to write?  Was it simply that parenting is hard enough when you aren't trying to figure out whether you are doing things the "French" way or the "American" way, because usually I'm just aiming for the "everyone's still alive at the end of the day" way?

On top of this, I've realized that while I have learned quite a bit about living and parenting in France as an expat, I still do not know all that much about living and parenting in France as a French person.  Now, I am not nor will I ever be a French person.  But I think a worthwhile and apropos Year 2 Resolution would be to learn more about French life - try to meet more French people, make more of an effort to spend time with the few French friends I have, and get away at times from the expat bubble in which I am completely content to spend my sojourn in Paris. 

I have thus resolved to read Bringing Up Bebe.  But I actually started off with another expat mom-oir (get it - a memoir from a mom), "French Kids Eat Everything".  The author is a British/Canadian mom of two married to a French man, and the book is largely about the year they spent living in her husband's home village in Brittany in which they discovered that while their kids were subsisting on pasta and baguettes, French kids were eating, well, everything.  Beets and escargots and veal and leeks, and more.

Apparently, the French believe that if your kid refuses to eat something, it means he simply hasn't tried it enough times yet.  Also, somehow the French teach table manners from an early age.  Currently, if Baby Oil doesn't want to eat something on his plate, he removes the offensive food from his sight by throwing it on the floor.  If we put food on a plate instead of directly on his tray, he dumps the plate on the tray, and throws the plate on the floor.  If we give him a fork or spoon without direct (which typically means hand-holding) assistance, and he gets bored, distracted, or annoyed, the cutlery goes on the floor.

For the past two days since I started reading this book, I have been striving to teach my 18-month-old-son to eat like a French kid. Or at least like a French kid described by an expat mom who lived in a village in Brittany (though I don't think she's so far off).  Now, it's only been two days.  And he actually ate the zucchini-lentil soup I made him yesterday, and the spinach-corn chowder I made today for lunch.  In between, however, everything still goes on the floor, or in his hair.  And coming up with lunch for him that is not grilled cheese, leftovers, or pasta is quickly going to exhaust my culinary interest. 

I won't ever be a French person.  But it is not totally crazy that Baby Oil could be, at least in certain respects, a French-ish kid.  Oh man - this resolution is going to require a lot of work!