Thursday, March 15, 2012

Candy Coating

I prefer critical statements that come in the form of sandwiches. This is a technique I have been slowly teaching my all too frank husband. Instead of looking at our loose pile of loosely organized bankstatements mixed with Redoute catalogue clippings and grocery lists and then shouting, "What on earth Mary!? Is this a joke? You are hopeless." I would encourage him to say something like this,  "Mary, I think you are so imaginative. This particular method of filing our banking paperwork makes no sense, but I know you are a quick learner so let me show you how I like to do it."

The word for frank in French is franc or franche... very few letters away from France or French. Interesting coincidence.

Americans generally try to say things nicely to each other and if they have something unpleasant to say they typically try to sugarcoat it a bit before delivery. The French are simply not this way. If something is the matter, if something is bothering them, or worse, you are bothering them, they rarely restrain themselves and typically tell it to you straight.

I was reminded of this twice in recently. Once when I was working on a shoot with a stylist friend who I had not seen in awhile...

Ohhh la la. Back up! Before I tell this story I have to first of course tell you the new news! I am pregnant. Very pregnant in fact.  Bébé number two is arriving this June. We could not be more excited.

... I hadn't yet told her that I was pregnant. I assumed that flashing her my big belly as I took of my winter coat would spill the beans. It, to may dismay, did not. We were busy though and running behind so I assumed she just didn't have a chance to notice. As we were heading home I finally brought it up, "Sooo I'm not sure if you were too busy to notice or too shy to say anything but look! I am nearly five months pregnant!"She turned to me, looked at me up and down and replied, "Oh la la.. You're right! Congratulations! But yes, I wasn't sure because the last time I saw you you weren't exactly thin as a rail." Or as the french like to say as thin as my pinky finger which is what she waggled at me as she delivered that unfiltered, somewhat factual, remark.

The second case of French frankness this week took place at our new daycare. It is clean as a whistle, stuffed with fantastic toys and manned by a team of well seasoned caregivers. Coco loves the place although cannot for the life of her figure out why we can't just stay there together? Why must I spoil things by leaving? The adaptation period has been rocky. And only now are we starting to turn the corner. But earlier this week two of the ladies pulled me aside to tell me that Coco was upset all day and it was starting to upset them too. After a long list of things that she did, howling at the window, sitting at the table alone and refusing to talk to the other babies, eating cake in a compulsive manner they topped it all off with and the worst thing is that she wakes up from her nap crying so loudly that she wakes everyone else up! They told me in no uncertain terms that it was getting on their nerves.

Huh. Was my reply, thinking what on earth am I supposed to do with that nugget of information? The American in me wanted to apologize that my child was being so disruptive at nap time and upsetting everyone. The French person in me wanted to say to them, frankly that's your problem not mine and your the professional so figure it out.

"Huh, ok, well see you tomorrow then mesdames!" was my reply, a kind of non response which I suppose falls into the if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all category, but didn't we as Americans come up with that technique too?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Félicitations with bébé #2! Too funny, franc/franche is not so far away from France/franç may be on to something!