WHILE I agree with many of the observations in your recent article about children’s behaviour in France, our experience has led us to draw quite different conclusions.
We moved to France 12 years ago with our two young children. The slower pace of life, the family-oriented society were major attractions. But we often found ourselves at a loose end on a Sunday.
We visited tourist attractions, but quickly exhausted all the options: no touchy-feely farms, no garden centres with good-value cafés, no indoor ball parks or even national parks. Concerts and shows, even those which the children perform in, go on until past midnight.
We pack our youngest daughter off every morning; she comes home complaining of headaches and noise. There doesn’t seem to be much fun in her day. Our eldest daughter is moving up to the lycée in September. Here again, the emphasis seems to be on subjecting students to a bourrage de crâne.
Over the years that we have been here, we have come to accept that, for us at least, France is not an easy place to live. We try to participate in village life, but recognise that there’s a part of that way of life that we just can’t adhere to.
And so we have become quite self-reliant. We enjoy snuggling up and watching Strictly Come Dancing together in the winter. We occasionally have tea in front of the television. Okay, nug-gets and smiley faces aren’t the most healthy of meals, but it’s what kids need every once in a while. It certainly goes down better than the poisson en sauce beurre et purée d’épinards that seems to surface all too often on the menu from the school canteen.
Our daughter will be catching a bus at 7am and returning 12 hours later, with homework to do on top of this. Why? Why be so mean? Adolescence is hard enough without these archaic and unnecessary pressures. Sarah Scarratt