The other night I was out with my friend Ludvik’s daughter (or written correctly, by Iceland standards – Ludviksdottir), I relayed a story from earlier that day.
Lil Burs and her friend Lil Yuki, came home from a school function. I was in the process of cooking dinner. She knew that I was going out later on that night and that, Dreannan would be sitting with her while I was out. So lil Burs bounced into the kitchen and asked “Are you having dinner with us or while out?” I responded “I’ll be having dinner with you guys before leaving.” “Ok” she said and then went back to talk to her friend.
About ten minutes later, I come in carrying plates and lil Burs looks up and asks “Oh, are you eating dinner with us before going out?”
And my head exploded.
So I state that she had just asked me that same question which I answered not more than ten minutes ago. And her response “Oh, I wasn’t listening to you.”
That’s where I grit my teeth.
What I say to Ludviksdottir is that my instinct was to smack her in the back of the head. What I know is, she responded as such because her friend was there and she wanted to seem cool. In lieu of smacking her I explained that next time she asks me a question and hears silence – she should reflect back to this moment because I won’t be answering anymore questions if she chooses not listen. But to my friend, I went full on about the inability to discipline as I see fit.
Ms Ludviksdottir looked at me and said “Oh my god, you are so french!”
That is one of the greatest compliments EVER!
A bit of background on my Icelandic friend. She had the pleasure of moving to Paris when she was four and lived there for eight years. She has regaled me with stories of her life in Paris. What she loved about it (that she’s fluent in three languages – Icelandic, French and English) and what she hated (the rude, negative french people). She’s shared stories about how the french way is rules, rules, and more rules when it comes to young children. And everyone is very strict. There is only one way to do things and everyone falls in line.
For instance, french school kids are taught to enter a classroom in an orderly fashion, stand behind their chairs until instructed to sit by the teacher. When she returned to Iceland, she was shocked that kids just ran into classrooms and plunked down on the desks, window sills or actual seats. She said her first day back she kept waiting for rules and yet, there weren’t any. Kids did what they wanted. While in France, you were told exactly what to do.
And according to her, my view points on child rearing is cut from that aesthetic.
Which made me laugh because for the first time, since reading French Kids Don’t Throw Food, that, duh, I was raised by french people. I mean, yes, my family stems from a little island in the caribbean. Which was once occupied by France. So of course my people adhere to a french raising system. Which is why, despite being raised in America, I always lean toward a stricter more stringent thought process.
For example, we had asked lil Burs to tidy up her wardrobe and room a few times. The request fell on deaf ears. Until her dad made her shake in her boots by raising his voice. I chuckled. And recounted a story from my childhood (one I hope I haven’t written about on here already):
My mother must have asked me over the weekend to clean my room. And as a kid, I ignored her (might of been just about lil Burs age). The weekend went by and I just put it off. Monday morning, I walked over the small piles on my floor and went off to school. On my return home, I opened my bedroom door and what did I find??? If you’re thinking a room cleaned by my mother – YOU. ARE. WRONG. What I found was everything I own thrown into a massive pile on the floor. Yup, from my drawers, to my closet and my bedsheets. My mother appeared behind me and said “You will clean it all now!” (Say that with a strong Haitian accent please.) And I did. Because I’m not crazy.
That one move ensured that I never again put off a clean your room request (and by request, I mean command).
But lucky for the lil one, I keep my strict sensibilities to myself. I would never in a million years raise my hands to her (or any kid for that matter). She already knows a way and that way is British (which resembles American). So instead, I shake my head and replay how’d I discipline her if I had sat in labor and spent these last twelve years rearing her. And then chuckle because there’s quite a few things that I know a kid I raised from birth wouldn’t do, in front of me, if that was the case (at least this is the delusion I give myself, to keep the idea of having a kid of my own alive**). I also find a massive amount of happiness in the fact that though I don’t live in France. Or speak french fluently. I do resemble them in a manner. And it’s a manner that I’m perfectly comfortable with.
** I’m sure if you speak to my parents, they would disprove this idea in an instant, since I did do things all the time that they disproved of. Or had taught/told me to not do. Like talk back, give sass and outrightly disobey. But in my defense, I did a lot of that out of their reach, hearing span or eyesight so…I was a bit better.