Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Me against the world

This post is an abrupt about face from my last happily dapply one. Today I'm writing you from the bottom of the dark damp pit that is anger, depression and alienation. Hello, my old friends. It hasn't been so long, after all?

The cause: the total misunderstanding that stemmed from one of Juliette's tantrums. Monday she tried to slap me as I was putting her in her high chair for her snack (which she didn't want). I immediately picked her wriggling body up and put her in the playpen in Remi's room (we were at his parents') and told her to calm down. I didn't hit her back. To me that seemed illogical to say, don't hit mommy, then for me to spank her. It seemed contrary to the message I wanted to send, that hitting is wrong.

Of course, she started wailing. She knew she was being punished. She started getting hysterical. So I went back in there and tried to talk to her and at one point did give her leg a little slap to bring her back to reason. But she continued howling. Remi heard about the whole situation from his parents and later said I should have spanked her right away. The insinuation was that I was coming off as weak and not in control of my daughter in the first place as she tried to hit me.

This of course is wrong. I know from reading parents' forums online that toddlers hitting their parents or others is quite common and part of this phase of their life where they "test" things out. It is important to react, I'm not denying that. And I did react, immediately, by putting her in time out. This is where I apparently differ from just about all French people. Because since said situation, Remi has been telling me that so and so agree with him that spanking would have been the best solution right away.

Now I'm not entirely against the occasional mild spanking but I'm totally against it becoming a routine way to punish. My pediatrician is in fact against it all together. It seems to me to be the easy way out for parents. No need to explain and reason with the child. Just the threat of the hand. It's not the only way to discipline your child, that's what I want to shout out! A child also needs to understand why what they did was wrong, to learn to say sorry, to realize during their time out that what they did has landed them in isolation.

It's just starting to get to me big time that I'm always (or nearly so) in the minority when it comes to parenting views around here. No one takes me seriously when I say that when a child doesn't want to eat that yelling at them and giving them the uneaten beans from lunch at snack time is NOT the right approach. Ok, I get frustrated like the next parent and get testy when I see Juliette pick at her food. But I'm trying to find the best way to get her interested in food without dunking her head in the bowl. (Rest assured, that's never happened).

And now it's the entire French population who seems to think that the parent who doesn't spank tout de suite (right away) is coming off as weak (see this article which does show there might be some cultural background for this). And will probably have a demon child at the age of 15. There was talk of having an anti-spanking law here (as in Sweden), but most people scoffed at the idea.

If I have to repeat it ten times a day, I will. I am NOT a weak parent. I'm not a perfect one, but I don't let my child walk all over me either. And I'm sure she'll grow up to be a sweet and lovely person, despite her toddler tantrums.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

This time of year

These are the glorious days. Like Thursday when I didn't mind that much driving an hour to one of my client's because the sky was gorgeous with cottony clouds. And my favorite UB40 song, their version of Here I am Baby, set the mood for my ride back (yet another hour) as I enjoyed rolling green farmland, complete with the odd cow.

Spring does that to me. Makes my heart sing. Even though today as I write this we've got grey weather and rain clouds in the distance, I don't mind, because I know the garden will be getting some more of that much needed rain.

Speaking of the garden and all things flowery, this time of year is absolutely gorgeous in Remi's greenhouse. Everything seems to be at peak bloom and there are still enough flowers on the benches to create waves of color everywhere you look. After a while I even get blasé about how beautiful it is.

Of course, just as Remi's parents did when he was a toddler, I have to take pictures of Juliette in all this glory. Whether she likes it or not.

Marigolds on the left, Jujuflower in the middle, begonias on the right.


Petunias right behind her, geraniums in the background. Her trusty "Doudou" bunny in her hand.


Took this picture using the timer function so it took me about five tries and Juliette did NOT understand the concept of sitting still while I fiddled with the camera. Blue lobelia flowers (my all-time favorite) and bidens, I think, the yellow ones.

In the garden patch I tend to at his parents' place, things are blooming quite nicely, too. I particularly like this combination of Lychnis coronaria, Nepeta and a rose bush. I can only take the credit for planting the Lychnis myself.

Lychnis have the fuschia flowers, Nepeta light purple, then the rose bush.

The days are long this time of year. The sun doesn't set till around 10 and we're approaching summer solstice in about a week. I love being able to go out on my balcony and water at 10 at night and still see everything clearly. It's true we have more energy when the sun's out with us. I daresay I even don't mind sooo much getting up early when it's already bright. Winter is a whole different story, and I'm already dreading it.

Maybe I'm also accutely aware of how these next three weeks are my last bit of "freedom" before my training starts. I'm trying to appreciate the time I've still got to putter and walk to the park with Juliette without worrying too much about studying. My mom will be coming a week from today (yeah!), and I know we'll have a blast. Once she leaves I'll plunge into my program, but for now I'll keep focusing on enjoying every moment.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Blissfully ignorant... and a bit scared

Starting in July things are gonna change around here. I've been given financing to go back to school for a year. To study what? Stuff I kind of already know: biology/chemistry/lab techniques. But especially the latter I really haven't practiced in eight years. And it's been eating at me to not really use my US degrees here in France. I don't know that this program will open all the doors to me. But I feel it's better to do something than nothing (or to just whine). So in less than a month (yikes!), I'll be back in school, probably pulling my hair out trying to remember things that were simple to me when I was 18. Which was more than half a lifetime ago for me.

For now I can only imagine what the training will really be like (hence the blissfully ignorant part). I've been trying to review some things on my own, but I fear it won't be enough. Luckily most of my classes will be with other adults who are going back to school also (but some of them have had access to an official review session that my funding doesn't pay for).

Nevertheless I'm a little worried and scared about the whole thing. For several reasons:

*I'll be earning less money for a year. Even though tuition is paid (a good thing), my salary will not be at the same level it is now. Can you say sacrifices? Can you say tightening an already tight budget? I haven't been sleeping well just thinking about it all these past months.

*I'll have to really work! As in study my butt off. Which I don't know if I can do so easily since I'll still have to take care of Juju a good bit of the time. There might be weekends where Remi can help more, but I have a hard time imagining next spring when he works seven days a week and I need to cram for biochemistry.

*The training is pretty much eight hours a day, except Fridays when I think I'll finish a bit earlier. So Juliette will have to be in before and after-school care. And either spend some Wednesdays with Remi's mom or in the daycare. Because French kids don't go to school on Wednesdays. That's not so easy for working (or studying) moms to handle. I think the fact that I'll be seeing her less eats the most at me. I've been super lucky to be able to spend some afternoons or parts of mornings with her due to my weird work schedule (read: not many classes sometimes). But that will change. Remi will take her to before-school care in the morning, and I'll pick her up hopefully around 6:20. It'll be a long day for all of us.

But I'll have to bring out that famous adapting ability I'm not so good at. The transition won't be easy, but hopefully after a few months time we'll all find our rhythm. And it is, of course, for a good cause.

So I might be blogging less come July and reading your blogs less(though I'll sneak in a post or two, because I think I'll still need this outlet). But I know you'll understand. Ok, back to a bit of light reviewing (until I nod off...)