|Peacock crossing. Even without their parents around, French children are generally well-behaved.|
Sitting on the bus and feeling rather depressed by man's inhumanity to man after a guided tour on the history of Jews in France during World War II at the Shoah Memorial, I glanced up to see a trendy Parisian father in a New York Yankees baseball cap accompanied by two overly precious daughters in frothy, pink tutus stride down the aisle. As all of the seats were taken and protocol demands that older people abandon their seats for children under the age of four, the woman next to me politely offered her place to the fashionable father. Without a word of thanks, he picked up the youngest ballerina and attempted to plant her in the seat next to me. Letting out a blood curdling scream, the little minx went rigid and started howling, "pas à côté de la dame, pas à côté de la dame!" ("not next to the woman, not next to the woman!"). Still thinking about the staggering numbers of French Jews who were annihilated in Nazi concentration camps, it took me a couple of seconds to switch gears and realize that the little girl was referring to me and that all of the other passengers were regarding me with a great deal of suspicion. Was there a child molester or deranged serial killer in their midst? As Miss Pampered Princess continued to kick her feet in my direction and shriek like a banshee, it occurred to me that she must not have read Pamela Druckerman's book, Bringing Up Bébé, in which the author claims that French children don't throw tantrums. If she had, I'm sure that she would have settled into the seat without a fuss and that my ears wouldn't still be ringing from the onslaught of her screams.
While I realize that Ms. Druckerman didn't intend to imply that all French children are perfectly behaved all of the time, what confounds me is that she has been nominated as one of the most influential people of the year by Time magazine. Miss Pampered Princess and her fashionable father must not be subscribers! The results will be revealed Tuesday, April 17.
It's interesting to see that Nicholas Sarkozy, the French president, Marine Le Pen, the leader of France's extreme-right National Front Party, and Francois Hollande, the Socialist candidate for the French presidency, are also on Time's most influential list. Vive la France!
Edit: Poll results are as follows: Sarkozy - 3,465 yes (most influential), versus 6,515 no; Le Pen - 3,456 yes, versus 4,827 no; Druckerman - 3,118 yes, versus 6,580 no; Hollande 2,322 yes, versus 3,603 no.
Please click here to read the thought provoking NYT op-ed, The Non-Joie of Parenting, by Jennifer Conlin about why it's not so easy to transfer the French method of parenting to the United States. As a former expat who has lived in France, England and Belgium, Conlin raises some excellent points.