I gave birth to my first daughter, Lily, in the United States back in 2004 and my two other daughters were born here. So I was fortunate enough to not only see the difference in maternity practice between France, and the U.S., but also the biggest differences in child rearing.
Now, don’t get me wrong -Modern French women are as up to par on health issues, science, child development, and current affairs as Americans are.
It’s their mothers that are the problem.
You see, different generations believed the common cold came about by various conditions in the environment, biggest ones being:
Air currents. If I leave the door open someplace where there’s children, I’ll be sure to get the death glare from their grandmothers. Everyone knows air currents cause colds!
Stuffy house. Even today the government recommends we air out our homes on a daily basis. This means opening every door and window to your house for a full 20 minutes in order to let out all the germs.
Or let in new air.
Or, as my mother in law explained- to let in the cold so it will kill all the germs. (which still leaves me wondering why we’re expected to do the same in summer?)
In winter time, you’ve got to open each room separately and not all at once (or else you’d freeze your arse off) so, depending on how many rooms you have, it can become an all day affair.
In the summer time, even if it’s 100° degrees outside, you’ve got to ‘air out the house’, preferably in the morning. Air conditioning isn’t already included in the construction of many buildings around here and it’s expensive to run.
Your head, neck, or feet aren’t covered. Now- I grew up running around the woods and the hot concrete of our street barefoot. I swear, by the end of summer, I could walk across lava rocks without flinching. I used to affectionately refer to my soles as ‘Pocahontas Feet’. And in winter I preferred going barefoot in the house. Dressed in sweaters and turtlenecks, I found if my feet were too hot, my whole body’s too hot. And I had always heard when it comes to babies you should ‘put one layer of clothing more than what makes you comfortable’. And after a certain age, your kids can tell you themselves if they’re hot or cold, right?
However, my in-laws stared at me aghast when I’d step out of the house without shoes or socks for the first time. And if they stop by and see my kids aren’t wearing socks, they’ll flat out tell them to go put socks on. ‘You’ll catch cold!’ Even if it is warm in the house or the middle of summer. I’ve tried to explain that colds aren’t caught from your feet. Or head. Or neck. And they sweetly acknowledge this fact- but still insist that bare feet won’t help if there are germs about. (Needless to say, I’ve given up this battle. I don’t mind. I know once they leave my kids will kick off their socks anyway.)
No matter the season, when walking outdoors with my children, they will be consistently ‘too covered’ or ‘not covered enough’ according to random elderly French women who stop me in the street.
And to top it all off, should my kids eventually come down with the common cold. (Which they do. Several times a year. Despite house-airing, current-closing, and sock/hat/scarf-wearing) – my in-laws generation was the ‘antibiotic’ époque. So, when I come back from the doctors with one of the kids, they’ll ask ‘did they give her antibiotics?’. And when I respond ‘No, they didn’t think it was necessary’, I’ll be privy to a nice rant on how doctors are inadequate now a’ days.
The French government is even trying (in vain) to change this out-dated concept with their long running publicity ‘Antibiotics are NOT automatic’.
But I don’t think it’s sinking in:)
Have a great weekend everyone!
Don't feel bad. Older generations still feel that way here too. Though not about air current specifically. Our school has a week break in April though to air out the school of germs after a long winter of all the windows being closed! :)
I don't like to wear socks if I can get away with it either. But my nan always used to tell me I'd catch cold. LOL.
I don't get the 'antibiotics for everything' thing either. My doctor only gives them as a last resort, or if really needed.
Oh how I love the views of all sorts of parents, even in the same city. What different cultures or generations believe in.
I ran around outside with tanktops and shorts on and bare feet all the time. I wasn't anymore unhealthy than the next child! Guess now a days you have to decide if you want to do it your way or just do it others way to avoid the confrontation, lol.
Happy Friday :)
LOL Your in laws would go crazy in my house. As soon as my boys get home, the socks come off. Usually said socks are on the floor (note: not there bedroom floor) where they stay until I pick them up. And in the morning, my oldest leaves his socks off until he has to go somewhere. :)
LOL!!! Bless your in-laws!! Oh dear!!
This reminds me of my mum and my sister and how they'd have blazing rows cos my sister was all for letting her boys (when they were babies) run free and naked and get into all sorts much to my mum's consternation!! My mum also believes antibiotics to be the cure-all of everything LOL!!
Have a great weekend! Take care
First daughter born in 2004??? OMGosh, I know we said we'd hang in person, someday (and we will) but dearly...I gave birth to my first ll yrs before you. *sigh* I want to be a vampire. Immortality sounds young. LOL
Hey, at least France has the best public health care in the world, according to NPR at least.
Hmmm... I'm thinking the old French woman has a lot in common with the old Italian-American woman. :D
I like to "air out" the house especially after a sickness in the home. Not sure if it works, but it makes me feel like I'm doing something...
I used to not put shoes (socks but no shoes) on my infants because they always kicked them off and they were hard to put on anyway! I'd get so many comments from strangers (ladies). "Why don't you have shoes on your poor baby?"
I wanted to scream, "They can't walk for crying out loud!" But I'd sweetly smile (okay fake smile).
My in-laws think I'm crazy to walk around barefoot. Ou sont tes pantoufles? And here in the States, my husband STILL claims running the ceiling fan will cause him to prends foid. *eyeroll*
Have a great weekend!
What about night air? You know, how you can't leave a window open at night because the "night air" will make you sick. It's totally different from daytime air, of course.
i don't know the subject of your first book, but i truly hope your second (and third and fourth) are about a thinly-disguised character living in france.
seriously, this stuff is writing gold.
I'm afraid I need to add old Turkish women to the list too. Socks, slippers, etc. are required and they insist you wear an undershirt (or camisole) or you'll die of something or other. Although, the cami thing is kind of useful, I've found....
@ Nicole...no ceiling fan in our BR for the same reason! lol!
That's not just a french thing. Work in a hospital some time and you'll be stunned at what people believe.
I love learning about different cultures. When I was a kid, my grandma and mother used to be the same way. Put your coat on, put a scarf on, put gloves on . . . To this day I can’t wear anything around my neck because of all those tight winter scarves from childhood. I feel like I'm being chocked.
This is a very funny post! You gotta love how mother's believe what they believe, even when scientifically proven otherwise.
Don't get me started on antibiotics. The vast majority of the time, people don't need them. But if they're sick and go to the doctor, the patients expected something, practically demand it. That's some of the reason why germs are becoming more and more resistant to antibiotics. People take them, start to feel better so don't take the entire dose. Some of the bacteria is killed, but those that aren't are now resistant. ad, bad, bad. Whoops, sorry about the rant!
Interesting. I'm told getting tons of opinions on how to raise your children even when not asked is a world wide phenomenon.
I saw the same thing when I lived in Germany. Lüften! Didn't matter if there was a blizzard outside, my co-workers had to open the window right by my desk to air out the room at least twice a day.
*giggles* I love these things. My BFF has a Greek MIL and every time YaYa was there, her kids got so tightly swaddled they couldn't MOVE--no wonder they sleep all the time! They have no circulation! My friend is a Pediatric nurse practitioner, so you can imagine the battles between modern American Medicine and Greek Wives Tales...
I just an article about babies and small children wearing too many clothes, getting too hot. Swear.
With my English grandfather it was always wet hair that did it. I'm surprised anyone ever survives childhood given the vaious, often conflicting, dos and donts.
I love the name Lily :) I have three girls and my second oldest is Sky Lily. Nice name choice.
Ha, is that something with the French or just old people? My grandparents all think some pretty nutty things. I remember until I was about 16 I used to put hot water into ice cube trays because my grandma told me that they'll freeze faster because the molecules are closer together.
Old people just think weird things.
Pocahontas feet--I love it, we called them alligator feet...because seriously they were tougher than alligator skin during the summer...
In Guatemala you get the same guff about wearing jackets, hats, etc...even when it's quite warm outside.
I had "Pocahontas feet" too! Those were the fun days!
I think it's fascinating how different generations are and in different countries too!
Oh my gosh, that's too funny. I wonder if my kids will roll their eyes at me when I'm a grandma and dispense advice.
On second thought they already roll their eyes when I give advice.
My husband is three years older than me and I still have trouble convincing him that I'm not going to get sick when I go out in the winter without a coat....
The idea about catching a cold from, erm, getting cold is a widely believed myth amongst older generations in the UK too. Must be a European thing! If I go outside with wet hair (which is a far more common occurrence than it really should be) all sorts of people will tell me that it will make me catch a cold. Science? Who needs it!
Lol. My husbands one of those sock people. I've always run around barefoot, but his whole family is in socks all the time. We live in Miami!!! It is flipping hot down here and I'm not going to carry around socks in case I want to take my flip flops off in the house. Literally, I was sick once and my husband chased me down with a pair of socks and nagged me until I put them on. Lol. (Growing up he lived in Panama until he was five and then he spent summers there after coming to the U.S., not sure if that has anything to do with it.)
People just like to be bossy... I think when you have young children, people just feel they somehow get the right to give you their opinion.
My parents and grandparents are of the exact same mentality... same with going outside in cool weather with wet hair... I've given up trying to explain that you won't catch a cold through your head ;)
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