This is another non-review of a book I haven’t read, but I have read a review, in the Oregonian‘s “The Omamas on parenting” column of February 11, 2013, “French parents don’t make life all about children.” They were reviewing 2 books by Pamela Druckerman, Bebe Day by Day, and her latest, Bringing up Bebe. They reminded me of the way I was raised, and the way I raised my children, apparently because my mom was second-generation out of France.
It starts out with the author talking about the moment when she began to realize how well French children behaved in restaurants, while she struggled with her own toddler. It reminded me of how well my own children behaved in restaurants, earning praise from waitresses everywhere. It’s a long review, contains a lot of good tips, and I recommend you find it on Oregonlive.com and read it. And then read the books; I may even buy them myself.
This is a protest against what I see on the streets way too often: adults pushing perfectly healthy 3-5 year-olds in strollers, often in double strollers with a younger baby on board. Strollers are for toddlers, not over the age of three. Once they are big and agile enough to keep up with an adult, they no longer need them.
How are they going to build any muscle power and endurance without walking past the point of tired? No pain, no gain. Besides, they are too heavy for mom to be pushing around. The point of a stroller is not to keep a child from getting tired; it is to allow mama to travel at a decent pace and not have to carry a big baby everywhere.
I got sucked into pushing my nearly four-year-old grandson in his stroller yesterday, for part of a 3-block walk to a store. My daughter said that he was acting pretty tired, and he wouldn’t want to walk after a while. This is the same boy I’ve been taking for much longer walks to the park without having to carry him back, though he asked me to.
She’s expecting another child, and I’ve lately been pointing out some of the facts of life to him: We aren’t here to serve you. The older you get, the less people will serve you, until you make enough money to pay them. A baby can’t do anything, and so must be served everything. The more you can do for yourself, the less we will do for you. You’re a big boy now. Life doesn’t revolve around you. You will soon need to help mama serve your baby sister.
So grandson didn’t ride back home. He helped grandma pick up litter and had a great time hunting it, yelling “trash!” and “garbage!” and pushing the stroller with the bought item bag and a litter bag hanging from the handles. Grandma insisted on that, and kept calling him back to the pushing, since she was picking up the vast majority of the litter, and all the glass, which he was not allowed to touch without gloves. Yes, he wanted to get in and ride occasionally, but grandma was having none of that; he’s too big for that.
Don’t over-serve your children. They should, ideally, serve you.