Best way to roast the broomstick. Must try. Five Stars.

Lost in translation

Over the weekend I was watching an episode of House Hunters International where a family was moving from the Midwest to Paris. While touring the second floor of a house in the Paris suburbs, the mother pointed out to the realtor that there were no screens or any safety devices on the windows, how was she supposed to keep her two-year-old from jumping to his death? And the realtor answered in English with a deep accent, “Vell, you tell heem not to jump out zee vindow, and he will not jump out zee vindow.”

You guys, why did she not think of that?

I sat there and rewound that segment about seventeen times, pausing each time on the realtor’s face when that mother asked that question, his eyebrows raised to his hairline. I don’t know if there is a French word for DUH? but his face said it.

(maybe, le DUH?)

Perhaps two-year-old French boys would hear, “Do not jump out the window.” But I’m guessing that those boys have been drugged.

Most would hear, “Outside this window is the most amazing toy ever invented. No other child on earth has one. In order to get it you must jump as far off of this ledge as possible. But you have to do it when no one is looking or the toy will go away. Also, the toy will be even bigger if you make a huge fuss over dinner and then kick your mother while she tries to pull your pajamas over your head. One last thing: your big sister is going to find out about this toy in less than 24 hours, so you should probably set her bed on fire while she’s sleeping.”

  • mommyoffour

    I saw that episode. That realtor OBVIOUSLY is an idiot. And not a mother. And that kid would SO fly out that window if given the slightest chance.

  • maryawrites

    Hi, this is my first time posting here. Loved your post. Brought a few much needed giggles. Looking forward to reading more, and posting more. 🙂
    permanent signature.

  • gardengirl49

    The realtor in France was not aware that screens are the norm in US houses (why should he be?) – but the US couple were obviously not aware that they could not expect screens in French houses – mutual ignorance but no malice on either side. And it went on from there… Everyone just followed their own cultural assumptions and sadly, though not surprisingly, some folks on this list responded with fear and hatefullness to something that they didn’t take the trouble to try to understand.
    There are fewer bugs in Europe (mosquitoes are unknown in many areas) and, especially in the north, the weather is cooler so windows are more often closed and there is just not the same need for screens.
    And child-rearing practices are definitely very different.

    I grew up in the UK and have lived in the US for over 25 years now. I have also lived in France. I have never ceased to be amazed at how little many Americans discipline their young children – and then they wonder why these little egos-on-legs get into trouble as teenagers.

    I will never forget the first time a friend brought her 4 year-old to my house and the child walked over and opened my fridge without asking and started to rummage inside while his mother looked on and did nothing. This would just never happen in Europe – but it has continued to happen with my kid’s friends as they have grown older. I’ve become used to saying, “Please don’t do that, it’s not the way we do things in this house.” They just don’t understand what they are doing is disrespectful and rude, that life does not revolve around them and their needs – it never occurs to them to ask – because they have not been taught to respect other people. These are nice kids, their parents are nice people – they have just never been given limits or taught to consider other people. America is dominated by the cult of the individual and the social consequences are devastating.

    I know many of my US friends are surprised by the amount of freedom that my kids have now that they are teenagers – but the groundwork was laid when they were little, and I know I can trust them to make good decisions. It is more important to give kids the tools and skills to protect themselves than it is to try to single-handedly protect them from the world.

    Someone told me once that parenting is a consulting job – if you choose to be a parent, it’s your job to release a functioning adult into the world with all the skills that s/he needs to survive as part of a community. Everyone suffers when this doesn’t happen, but the children are the ones who suffer most of all.

  • andyro

    YAY! I followed the rules and made a book with only 5 pages… but it wont let me delete the blank pages… does that disqualify me? I hope not!

  • Moomser

    I’m with the Europeans on this one, sometimes we can go overboard with the baby proofing. I really think it’s important to teach kids a sense of danger cause there’s always going to be dangerous things around and they need to learn to recognize them. Seriously, you’re bound to come across a window without a screen at some point right? It’s funny cause I wrote a post on this very subject and then read all the comments here, I’m going to have to write a part 2 to my post now!

  • greetd

    I agree completely with Mattarine, I couldn’t have said it better. I’m Belgian, and I can confirm that in Western European countries, parents don’t make such a big fuss over safety issues. And my personal opinion is that if you overprotect children, they won’t learn things themselves, and they will feel the need to push boundaries more strongly. It’s what I experienced myself as a child and as a teenager, too. I have the impression that Americans tend to stress out unnecessarily about these things.

    Also, we do use screens. They are just not fastened to the window. Don’t they ruin the view when they’re in the window permanently? We just put them in the window when it’s open, which is like, 1% of the time. We actually use them to keep the bugs out, it never occurred to me that they could be seen as safety measures.

  • Renacita

    Crepes, good bread and lots of chocolate tend to make me a little ‘comatose’ when it comes to baby proofing too.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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