I've been reading Pamela Druckerman's book, Bringing up Bebe, this afternoon, and I'm hooked.
I've spent good stretches of time in France and am a pretty unapologetic francophile. Will and I often discuss the possibility of relocating to Paris, and one of the more practical arguments in favor of this cause is the system of French nursery schools and the pro-family policies of the French government.
While we're not packing our bags, just yet, I think the book does a good job of explaining why the obsessively child-centric parenting style of many Americans often winds up creating children who can't stand the slightest bit of boredom or delayed gratification. In turn, these kids are impossible to take anywhere, so the parents are either held captive at home or forced to constantly apologize when their children have meltdowns in grocery stores or restaurants.
A while back, when I told one acquaintance, a mother of a toddler, that we were hoping to have children fairly soon, she all but said we'd never go anywhere again. "I'm not travelling internationally until my child is at least 5. It would be a total nightmare," she said ominously.
I don't think you'd hear a French mother say this.
French mothers don't climb on jungle gyms with their children or attempt to provide contant narration of their play or incessant creative stimulation. They don't tote around bags of Cheerios in case of a mild hunger pang; the kids wait until they are home and snack in a more structured way.
I think when I mention the fear of being a parent, it's the fear of being a one of those harried parents who can't complete an adult conversation for a stretch of years and years, beholden to this insane schedule of activities and unable to go anywhere with their child that doesn't contain a ball pit.
The slightly more strict, old-school European way of doing things seems manageable.
What do you think? Is this total nonsense?