Thursday, October 25, 2012

Creepy Vans and Angelic Toddlers

Obviously, many interesting things are happening in my life, as this blog has been so sorely neglected.

Like, the other day I was walking home from the market, thinking long deep thoughts to myself and enjoying the mellow breeze playing in the daisies. I know: It is the end of October and the breeze is warm and there are daisies and roses everywhere. 

Quite suddenly - interrupting my sunshine and daisy revery -  a van pulled to the side of the road, and the driver motioned for me to get in, and that he was heading in the direction of Couiza. 

Little did he know that I was absolutely and completely outside on purpose - to enjoy the beautiful weather - and that I had no intention of crawling into a van that was a doppelgänger for every van that has ever appeared on  the evening news, as the vehicle of a "person of interest" in a kidnapping.

No joke. This van was an absolute caricature of all vans that have been accessory to a kidnapping or murder.

Seriously, buddy. Girls these days don't hop into just any vehicle that stops for them. No. We are smart. BMWs and Audis are where it's at these days.

This isn't even the point of my blog ramble today - no. Not at all. Moving on.


Today I would like to proclaim that little French children are the absolute bomb.

A while back I was at a cafe in Paris. I watched in awe as a little guy - not more than four years old - sat at a table for about two hours, cutting politely at his duck, eating with a fork, and rarely interjecting into the conversation of his elders. He seemed completely content and at peace - as if nothing could be asked of the world except duck and sparkling water.

And then, the other day, I was at the bakery I frequent for an afternoon tea, and as I sat on the outside patio, I became witness to yet another miracle of French parenting. This time the kid could not have been more than three. His mom and her friend were sitting and chatting over coffees, and he was sitting between them, devouring an eclair with the aplomb that only a three year old can manage. 

He finished, politely wiped his mouth, and slid off his chair to play with the toys piled off to the side, and kept by the bakery for just such occasions.

He biked on the path around the patio. He disappeared around the corner of the bakery to collect rocks. He played with a little truck. And the only time he interrupted his mother was to give her some flowers he had picked, at which point he skipped off again. "Ooh la la, ma petite!"

For the next hour, he happily hummed to himself and obtained a thin layer of dirt from his explorations of everything in sight.

Occasionally he would take a rest on the chair next to his mother, and she was quite happy to have him listen in; there seemed to be an unspoken agreement that he was quite welcome to join the adults, as long as he did his best to act like one. Never did the afternoon seem to revolve around him, cute as he was.  Beyond the delivery of flowers,  and the occasional head pat, mother and child were both quite happy to do their thing. 

Maybe it's just me, but in North America parents seem to exist in order to cater to their children. Beyond the ridiculous amount of paraphernalia that is carted around, anytime a child is in the near vicinity there is a mild uproar as he is attended to and praised and nattered at and catered to in every way shape and form. 

This French mother neither jumped up when her little boy tripped and fell, nor exclaimed at his abilities with the toy car, or at the fact that he ate his whole eclair. He didn't interrupt her conversation looking for affirmation or comfort, and she didn't interrupt his play with needless inquiries and streams of encouragement. 

Something tells me this is how it should be. The adult world exists, not to revolve around children, but as something for children to grow into. 

Perhaps if North Americans had this approach, children would actually know how to play and entertain themselves, and parents wouldn't be so stressed out and resentful of their offspring. 

I don't know about you, but there is no way in hell that, as a fully grown adult, I want to sit in the dirt and play with a truck while trying to have coffee with a friend, or curl up on a couch and pretend to like Dora the Explore in order to get a kid into bed.

NO. I protest. I draw the line.

Kids: Be kids. Adults: Be adults. Enjoy your separate lives. And if they must join, let it be the child stretching up to maturity, instead of the adult descending into toddlerhood.

Done. End of story.


  1. Hey darling. I agree about the child with the truck. But soemthing about the one sitting for two hours at a table makes me think he is sorely suppressing his childness. It reminds me of a picture I saw of two African children with subtitled words saying something like: "so I hear in the west they make kids sit at desks all day. They're not allowed to move, and they're expected to learn that way. How sad."

  2. are totally going to be one of those parents who immediately descend into goo goos and ga gas to communicate with your children.

  3. Meaghen.

    My child will be wrapped in bubble wrap and have a secret service attachment.

    I will be the worst most protective mother ever. Also:

  4. I'm not sure I even want kids. I want to adopt a pregnant 18 year old and be a grandparent.