Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Big kids or little adults?

It's been a while...a long while. The time that used to go into  inspiration for this blog is now pouring into creating interesting classes for little kids and baking cookies. And more cookies. And more cookies. And although I'm happy to have the outlet and passion and creative energy flowing, I do miss my blog. 

But the one thing I don't want is this blog to turn into some mundane American expat in France here is a funny pile of dog shit kind of blog. And I feel like that's all I'm living at the moment. Hey, someone peed on my garage again. Hey, the shop assistant was an asshole again. Hey, I just don't understand the French and how that neo-nazi racist xenophone could have been elected to the European Parliament! And so on and so forth....

But there is stuff going on that I want to write about. And I want to get feedback if there's still anyone out there who still looks at my lonely little blog. 

See, my daughter just turned 8. And it turns out that little kids are mean in all languages. Raising a kid is hard. Being different is hard. I've been a kid but I was a kid like everyone else. I wasn't a half American- half French mix growing up bilingually. And to top it off, my mother didn't show up at school wheeling strange things to eat and speaking a strange language to all my friends. And flat out embarrassing me because she didn't get it. Oh wait, that sounds like stuff my mom did without the extra language. So maybe Suzanne's life isn't so different from mine!

My dear English friend and I have a theory about our kids - they are just different. They are less harsh, more fun and definitely less cut throat than their French counterparts. Maybe it's their anglosaxone sides. And maybe it's just me and my friend....but whichever it is, it can't be easy to be different. Not visibly different like with a huge scar or a birth mark but just different in the way you talk and think. I've realized that language forms your thinking pattern. Look at my daughter for instance when she asks for something in French - she uses English structure. The way you form your sentences must form your brain and personality and vice versa. 

So what do you say to your 8 year old when she comes home saying Alice says they aren't friends anymore or niki calls her a machine a manger or when nino makes fun of her for just learning how to  ride a bike? How do you make your kid strong without always putting emphasis on the difference that is being bicultural and bilingual? My first reaction is always to say, well does he speak English? Has she ever lived in a different country for 2 months? But I realize that maybe that's not the right way to go about it. Maybe the emphasis shouldn't be on "be proud of your difference"  and "never forget how special you are" but rather "people are mean in all languages" and "you are a wonderful person and I love you more than anything". 

Meanness is universal. And I wish I could take back the mean things I did to people who were below me in the pecking order. I wish I could appologize for taking out my own social frustration on people who were geekier than I was. And I hope I can teach my daughter - and son- to be graceful in the face of teasing and just absorb it like a sponge but spit it right out without leaving a trace. I wish French kids weren't mean but they are. Kids are kids. And kids are little adults - or are adults just big kids? - and kids are mean. 


L said...

In my experience, kids are mean towards other kids regarding identifiable differences: wearing glasses, being very short/tall, having an unusual name, doing things differently, etc. When my mom looked at my 1st grade school supply list and saw I had to have an eraser she gave me one she had in her drawer from Germany: it was yellow and square and I got all kinds of grief from my classmates because it wasn't pink and parallelogram shaped. I remember being rather upset by it in 1st grade, but in the end I think it was a good experience to learn how to handle other people's comments.

And then of course that made me think of Louis C K and his discussion of why kids are mean and why he hates cell phones: http://gawker.com/louis-c-k-s-explanation-of-why-he-hates-smartphones-is-1354954625

Nicole said...

I tell myself - daily! - that being different from the other kids is in fact really good practice for them to learn to *not* care what other people think. Le regard de l'autre in this country is so harsh and our kids are learning to become immune to it at an early age. It's neither easy nor comfortable - both for us and for them - but in the end it is a gift because it teaches them to seek approval only from within and it allows them to start to learn about compassion. All of that said, I still want to smack the brats who are mean to my boys because they are different!

Anonymous said...

Hi Reb!

Yes, kids are mean. My kids are in a bilingual environment and kids (even American ones) are still mean. I tell my kids that people always -- regardless of nationality or, unfortunately, age -- can say not nice stuff. Some of the mommies at my kids' school take my breath away with the horrible things they say.

When my boys come home with reports of someone saying not nice things, I tell them that if they react, the little shite who was rude to my kid will keep it up. I can't do anything about these other kids, I can only teach my kids that what other people say is largely nonsense.

Have fun with the cookies! I hope the grandes vacances are going well.

xx Rachael (not of Lille anymore)

Reb GroJo said...

friggin google! I replied to all of you finally! And google decided to kick me off the server.

anyway, the gist of it was I love Louis CK and he's totally right, I want to slap peopel here all the time, French people are mean in general and I blame it on the overly rigid education system and we can only make our kids better people because we can't change other people's kids.

Also, thanks so much for the comments since I don't even keep up my blog anymore! it's nice to know that the little community of expats built a long time ago is still there !

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