Progress Report, à la French Supernanny
Whilst researching French parenting techniques to use on my two young daughters in an attempt to reign in the chaos, I discovered that France had its own supernanny. Initially, I was slightly confused. Why would the French need a hero nanny to swoop in and rescue hapless, hopeless parents from their unmanageable offspring -- it's not a French problem, right? I've since learned that not all French children are little angels, and that the entertainment value of the show, in any language, is sensational. There are supernannies on television everywhere from Sweden to Israel to Brazil. Even China, Tiger-Mother territory, has a supernanny (and I shudder at that thought).
Of course, my eyes are locked on France and their beloved Cathy Sarrai, who catechized, in her blue-suited, bespeckled dictatorial way, how to claim one's inner chief, until her death in 2010.
But Cathy left behind a trove of French-flavored advice in my new favorite book, Super Nanny: Tous Les Bons Conseils de Cathy. At the end of her manual, Cathy provides a little quiz to assess le progress. It's long, so here is a condensed version. To be French, you don't want to answer yes to any of Cathy's negatives ( - ), but to be humane you may want to reconsider her approach to numbers 4 and 9.
1) Dorment-ils sans problème dans leur lit, sans chercher à venir dans le vôtre? +
Do they sleep soundly in their beds, without trying to come to yours? +
2) Leur faites-vous un menu à part? -
Do you make them a separate menu at mealtimes? -
3) Si votre enfant refuse de manger ce que vous avez préparé, lui préparez-vous autre chose? -
If you child refuses to eat what you have prepared, do you fix him something else? -
4) Vous parlent-ils comme à un copain? -
Do they speak to you as though you are a friend? -
5) Savez-vous rester zen lorsqu'ils font un caprice? +
Can you remain Zen while they are having a tantrum? +
6) Savez-vous couper court aux négociations? +
Do you know how to cut short negotiations? +
7) Vivez-vous dans l'angoisse constant de l'accident domestique? -
Are you constantly in fear of a domestic accident? -
8) Ont-ils une télévisions ou un ordinateur dans leur chamber? -
Do they have a television or computer in their room? -
9) En cas de problèmes à l'école, donnez-vous a priori raison à votre enfant? -
In the event of a problem at school, do you take your child's side? -
10) Vos enfant vous apportent-ils de grands moments de joie? ++++
Do your children bring you oodles of joy? ++++
I am happy to report that after a very focused and lengthly, occasionally painful, effort to get French with my kids, I did pretty well on the quiz -- especially that last question.