Ok, so I just finished Pamela Druckerman's recent book on how the French do it (raise their kids).
I just "love" how an American journalist moves to Paris on a whim and proceeds to take full advantage of the state-run Parisian offerings while discovering that her ex-country-women are not so lucky.
Not so lucky indeed- this book will rub it in your nose every chapter in ever so subtly obvious ways.
The writer seems to desperately want to teach us a lesson, but ends up sounding like one more didactic mother who thinks she's found the best way and wants to give back by teaching us, the unenlightened American poor lost mothers who breast-feed till they drop and birth without epidurals.
Mrs. Druckerman quickly forgets that she came from this very country which instilled the freedom and individual prowess that gave her the spunk to move to another country in the first place. She also compares the USA and France as if you can compare a full stand with all kinds of fruit and vegetables to a sack of potatoes (and crème fraîche).
I know why the book caught on- like everything old written in a new way, it is catchy and addictive.
But it does not do American mothers any service. If anything, it belittles so much of what they have struggled to attain. It also forgets that so many mothers here come from countries that have a system very similar to the French one.
But America is what it is exactly because people here, including mothers, have the freedom to experiment. It is a melting pot out of which fresh ideas sprout. And the government reflects that. Mrs. Druckerman compares the day care here and there as if there can be any comparison between the governments of the two countries and the lack or presence of state money. Mrs. Druckerman would do well to remember that her former home, unlike her current, is comprised not of one, but of many states, not of one, but of many people, and not of one, but of many ways. That is the American way.
I was brought up in a European country and I went to a state-run day-care and a state-run kindergarten. Yes, they were free, and yes, they were for the middle class.
But I gave up living close to my family and moved here and struggled to become American because at the end, this country is the land of the wonderful energized experimentation that Europe lacks. From New York City (where I live) to the vast plains of the Midwest to the Mississippi delta to the mountains of the West to the beaches of California to the rainforest of Oregon, this country offers ways yet to be discovered- by anyone who would dare that is.
To answer herself the question "Why do I have state-run creches that let me drop off the kids without paying much and go have my cafe-au-lait while I write my book?" and as a former journalist who wrote about politics, Mrs. Druckerman should look up what the US government spent on foreign aid and on the War On Terror last year. She will be shocked to see that as more than $ 119 bil, it is well over what France did, or could, or would if it could. She would also need to compare what she pays in taxes to what the French do. As probably most of her income comes from her English-reading audience (she does not write in French or for the French) in the USA, she should probably go and thank the French for paying the high taxes that run her local creche where her 3 kids went. Perhaps she should even contribute a little (to those taxes) instead of glorifying, selfishly, how wonderful it is to be on the receiving end.
Bon chance Madame Druckerman!