Let’s overwhelm the world

“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.” 
— Coco Chanel

My mother-in-law was with us during a couple of week which gave us all time to catch up. When talking about our daughter starting high school next September, she asked if she had to take the bus in the morning. One of the many problems linked with living in a rural area is that she will actually need to take 2 different buses and leave at 7am every morning. Quite naturally, my mother-in-law wondered why she wouldn’t prefer to spend the whole week at school (most of them are boarding schools around here) and only come back for the weekend. When my daughter answered she’d rather have to deal with the ridiculous commute bus ride than loose her freedom by staying there 5 full days, her grandmother replied : “Ça ne te ferait pas de mal” – it wouldn’t be bad for you (the French equivalent, used purposefully in a negative form, for “it would do you good”!).

(I guess it meant that discipline and a “community life” for an only child would have a positive impact…)

“You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.” 
— Toni Morrison (Song of Solomon)

When my daughter was younger she was a wild hopelessly introvert little thing and I have heard this sentence so many times, repeated by people thinking pushing her outside of her confort personal zone would transform her into a sociable normal child.

“Make her do team sports, that would do her good!”

For the past 15 years I have tried to find the right balance between things she had to get used to because yeh, that’s life, and things she could happily do her own way.

The Covid19 has made me jobless leaving in an area I despise. And I can’t help but wonder why I ended up at 47 shutting me in a situation I’m not happy with. Still, I grew up following all these things that were said to be good for me.

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” 
― Albert Camus

So why do we say that? “That would do you good”. Why, as my mother-in-law repeated, you’ll have to do things in your life you’re not happy with ? Why on Earth do we keep raising our children telling them life is full of nuisance and annoyances you have to bear?…When instead, we should fill them with hope.

Is it an older generation thing? Is it a cultural thing? Have you experienced such discourse when growing up? Or have you been taught you could accomplish whatever you wanted!

I wish education were all about positivity and empowerment. I wish I was always told as a child Yes it’s feasible. I wish I never had to wonder if I ought to discourage my daughter to try something because it was near to achieve.


And yeh?! Are boys raised in this particular way of thinking too?

17 thoughts on “Let’s overwhelm the world

  1. I’ve experienced both sides of the coin, growing up in the US, but also in a Chinese household. The American way of raising children is to inspire hope to “be anything they want to be,” whereas the Chinese way is more cautious and stricter. I think both have valid ways of bringing kids up, but go too extreme in one direction can be damaging. I think it’s best to give kids hope, but also realism. That’s what I’ve learned as I get older, and it’s a good idea to keep in mind, in my eyes!

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  2. Well yes I guess you can’t go more extreme than a combination between the US and China influence in the matter!!!! AS long as you managed to get a good balance from both education it must be great. But I can easily imagine it could have been painful too…

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  3. My favourite teacher in my teens, my English teacher, used to always say ”Life was never meant to be easy”, but he said it in a well that felt like he was joking or teasing us. I didn’t get much involvement from my parents regarding my learning and school but I taught myself that I can be anything I want. If they can do it, so can I. And I still believe it. What I do regret, though, is that I didn’t know about all the options there were out there. I wish I’d known I could have studied book editing or publishing, or photography, or marine biology. Instead, I studied business – how boring!!!!

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    1. It’s the” realism” Rebecca was mentioning in the comment above which is bothering me. My mother has always focused on the harsh reality of life when she wanted to make her point. And that is still bugging me.
      When my MIL said Monsoon should go to boarding school because it would teach her some lessons and make her adapt to her environment and follow the general pace, it bothered me.
      Why are we pushed to become averagely unhappy sheep in this society??

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  4. Interesting topic V and I’d agree about being realistic with kids but also never discourage them. I have two boys 12 and 10, my first born was told many times that he wasn’t ready for College (middle school) because of loss of concentration and difficulties in French (he’s a trilingual kid by the way) . How do you reply to that teacher who is still in the old system hitch sucks to be honest. Well, politely I said – “that’s bullshit, we’ll see.”
    End of his first year and after this turbulent school year and a lots of hours of home schooling, he’s got average marking in his class. Kids adapt. You need to believe in them but also keep things real, like was mentioned before.
    Best of luck V!

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    1. Thanks for your comment Yuri. The French education system is generally pathetic when it comes to adapting to unordinary children… well when it comes to adapting to just anything really!!!
      I just wish our society wasn’t seeing the world through a greyish filter all the time. I wish we would all raise our children telling them it’s up to them to make the world a wonderful place to live in….
      Yes I happen to see unicorns sometimes!!! 😉

      PS: will your kids be raised in France for the coming years?

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  5. A thought-provoking post, Vero that has no straightforward easy answer. You are asking about how we nurture the child – and I have discussed this at various times on my blog as well as spent many hours thinking about it, in terms of my children and how they grew up.
    It is so lovely to be a child whose parents or teachers accept them as they are, flaws and all and foster in them a “can do,” spirit, but I feel there are so many variables in life. If the teachers fail to be supportive and veer too much in the tough love/realism vein, seek out friends/peer/family who can balance that out for your child at home or in society. With the exception of one, my kids didn’t do team sports as they were not that way inclined, but they did other things that required teamwork with other kids – academic pursuits/hobbies/ chess teams or performance groups. Australians are obsessed with putting their kids through team sports – it is a culture here. It can leave your kids somewhat of an outsider, but every child is an individual and the parent knows the child intimately so will understand more about what the child needs than the sometimes critical extended family. My kids hated school camps. Sometimes they had to go, sometimes they could choose to stay at school – it depended on the situation, age, temperament of the child, their life situation, and timing. What is the foremost objective here? Does it feel right to you?
    Overall, be guided by conversations with your child. Beware any one extreme and seek a middle road kind of balance. Give the bus commute a go, but perhaps in later years, when study is at its zenith in the final years, your daughter may decide a year of boarding is not a bad idea. Flexibility and faith in your gut feeling as a parent is paramount. (Btw, I didn’t treat my boys any different to the girls and did a long commute as a school child in my final two years. That was right for me.

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    1. Thank you for taking the time Amanda to write such a long comment. I can see my post spoke directly to you.
      The middle road kind of balance is and will always be a challenge I suppose.

      It will be a challenging summer, then a challenging September once high school starts again. I can feel it.

      We’ll see…

      Liked by 1 person

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