Frogs vs Ros Bif! Guest post from Debbie Robert

January 11, 2011 in Latest, Life

I have lived in France on two occasions now. The first time pre-motherhood continuing for eighteen month post motherhood. My son was 4.5kg at birth and continued to be a big baby. Women I didn’t know passed me on the street, looked at William and commented on his size. In winter they would pass comment on how he was, or wasn’t dressed. Once, in a park, a group of four mothers rounded on me and bombarded me with questions about William (due to him being the size of an elephant – to them!) such as what I fed him and whether I had seen a doctor about him. I dozily answered their questions but, once the shock of what they’d done wore off, was so angry that I had actually not just told them where to go.

We left France and returned a year ago with a skinny four year old boy. I am very settled here now but have noticed some differences between British mothers and French mothers. Some French mothers I have met are very formal and communication is used using ‘sir’ and ‘madame’ even when the Christian name is known. We have known our son’s friend’s parents for a year now, yet when my husband sees the mother on the train into Paris, she always greets him with ‘hello sir’ and continues to refer to him as ‘sir’ throughout their conversations.

group snacking -- share one, share all

Image by freeformkatia via Flickr

The ‘gouter’ is a time honoured ritual of an afternoon snack and drink at approximately 1600hours. On school days it’s at the end of the school day. Parents take snacks to school to give to their children as soon as they’ve left the classroom and put on their coats.

French parents will loudly scold their children in public AND slap them without batting an eyelid. Nobody else seems to bat one either – except me. Not used to seeing that now. Take your child to a birthday party and expect to say good bye at the door even if you haven’t met the birthday child’s parents before (which is common here as many parents have nannies) as it’s just not the done thing to stay for the party. The lady  I mentioned above brought her son to my place to play with my son. I’d only met her the day before yet she stayed for ten minutes, exchanged pleasantries and then left. Vive la difference!

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