Bébé Day by Day

I have always wanted to be that cool French parent.

Ask my kids—they’ll tell you I’m a big fan of “Fermé la bouche!” I just thought that sounded better than “Shut the f*ck up!”

But speaking the occasional French phrase is about the closest I’ll get to being French. Maird. Instead, I’ll just have to live vicariously through author Pamela Druckerman’s books on the French style of parenting.

With a follow up to her bestseller, “Bringing Up Bébé,” Druckerman takes pen to paper, more clearly spelling out some of the how-tos in “Bébé Day by Day: 100 Keys to French Parenting.” If only I had this easy-to-read, fits-in-a-diaper-bag book 17 years ago …

For most moms, this book is a big heaping dose of common sense—much of which we already instinctively know, but don’t always follow through on—have the kids eat the same foods you do, give them chores, don’t overpraise and such. But several of Druckerman’s points struck me as hilarious, not in that they aren’t completely sane, because they are, but because to apply them would mean such a gigantic culture shift in our household that it’s quite possible I could rip the space-time continuum and be responsible for the end of the world—so, not worth the risk, really:

1. Pregnancy Is Not an Independent Research Project—Heh. I’m wondering if Mommy Blogs are big in France. My guess is no.

44. Don’t Teach your Toddler to Read—”What’s the rush?” Druckerman asks. Again, totally get the concept, but to learn something first is the American Way. Non!

74. Guilt is a Trap—Druckerman explains that the French understand, but still, their free time is their free time and they aren’t going to spend it feeling bad about what a crappy mom they are. Debating who is the shittier mom here is practically sport. Entire blogs, TV shows and movies are devoted to it. To stop feeling guilty may put an entire industry out of business.

77. Lose the Baby Weight—Ouch. Them’s fighting words. I get it, of course. No one wants to carry around that extra 20, 30, 40 … OK. Druckerman does point out that if one were to follow Keys #4 (“The Fetus Does Not Need Cheesecake”)and #5 (“Eat for One and a Bit”, weight loss might not be that difficult. And if you think, “Eh, it’s OK. These yoga pants hide those last five pounds,” Druckerman would say …

78. Don’t Dress Like a Mom—Note to self … don’t wear jeans to Ms. Druckerman’s book signing. Or something that I haven’t already worn that week. Hmm .. maybe I should just stay home. Because my Size 2 Chanel LBD has been at the cleaners since … never.

79. Don’t Become a “Taxi Mother”—Now I’m wondering if Druckerman has begun an independent research project on me. All I do between sleep and work is drive my kids places. How the heck else will I get them out of my house?

Don’t let my snark keep you from picking up this book—in fact, I hope it encourages you to do so. If anything, the concepts explored should open up a dialogue about our sometimes wicked, rushed, over-involved style of parenting in the States. We could learn more from the French than how to spot a good croissant.

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