|Village square in Provence, France|
The bistro was located in old Mouans-Sartoux village center. Like all old villages in the area it was medieval with a modern twist. We were given a table on the porch under a huge plane tree. We found the scenery to be very charming and although it was August the weather was bearable. There were the five of us: my dear husband, me and our three children. My youngest son sat in his stroller but the girls sat at the table and couldn't keep their mouth shut for a millisecond.
While waiting for the food we ordered I pointed out to my eldest that the French family next to us has very quiet kids.
"Of course they are" she examined them scornfully; "they get beat up every day when they come home from school."
The remark summarizes precisely my daughters' views on how to bring up well-mannered children.
Israeli kids don't have table manners. It is an unfortunate fact that doesn't help build my country's reputation in the civilized world. I must confess that as a born and bred Israeli my table manners are hardly polished. My parents really tried to bring up well-mannered children but failed miserably as I am failing now. When my kids sit at the table, well the truth is that they hardly sit. They fidget and move and squirm. They always have very important things to fight about when food is served; usually the fight is very loud. Once they finish their meal they jump off the chair and have to run around, if we're in a restaurant we try really hard that they won't run into the poor waiters, we tend to sit outside so they will have space. Don't let me forget the commentary they always make either on the food, or the surroundings or the people. The word "yack" is very popular, and it's pronounced very loudly.
The thing is I hear myself saying time and again all the sentences I heard from my parents: "Sit straight!", "Don't shout!", "Stop running!", and the number one of all times: "Don't say yack on food!" but to no avail. We acknowledge the fact that we are very poor in disciplining our offspring. But I must admit that deep down inside I'm rather happy they are such free spirited individuals, loud and opinionated, not docile and placid as the French kids we saw.
I had already come to term with the idea that my kids and I won't be invited to tea with The Queen.
|Cheers! Celebrating at a bistro in Provence.|
P.S. A few months ago a very talented Israeli writer Rutu Modan wrote a children's book on the matter, highly recommended to Hebrew reading parents.