• Harriot Grinnell-Moore

Tu Comprends Mademoiselle?


Playing in the Park


Amongst all of the great positives of working with children (and the many many negatives) the amount of times I’ve been told off because of them is the worst. French culture is different in many ways, one of the ways is that no French person has any qualms about telling off a child, even in front of their parents, in fact it’s very much accepted, this type of community raising.


It’s happened to me several times, once when the taxi was left waiting for ten minutes, because despite the amount of times I told the boys to stop fooling around and walk faster as the taxi was waiting they didn’t listen. So, when we arrived at the taxi I got a huge telling off from the driver at how long he’d had to wait, so it turns out it’s not just children that are open to a public telling off.


Another time, was whilst walking home from school, there is a house along the walk that has three or four dogs and the boys are obsessed with dogs so they always stop to say hello and when the dogs start woofing they woof back. I let them woof back a couple of times and then we carry on, which I thought was harmless. Apparently not. On one such walk we were accosted by the owner leaning over his balcony and yelling at the boys to stop winding up his dogs, fair enough, although his dogs are always wound up and barking, boys or not. Then he turns to me,

“Tu comprends, mademoiselle?”

"Yes, sorry I won’t let them do it again." I apologised.

However, that wasn't enough, I stood there for several more minutes as he ripped into me, my face getting redder and redder. Eventually, he finished and we scurried away.


However, the absolute worst time was when Achille decided to have the worlds most intense temper tantrum on the way home. His brother had gone off for a dentist appointment, and he wanted to go too, so naturally what ensued after his brother left was lots of screaming, yelling and kicking. He kept trying to run off, so the whole walk to the bus was me trying to keep a hold of him, and him screaming and kicking. So, I got A LOT of judgey stares, and many many tuts as I tried to calm him down. The bus was the worst because a kid screaming in such a confined space is not going to go down well, I kept trying to talk to him but nothing worked until the man in front of us turned around and yelled at him, immediate silence. Said man then began to tell me how awful it was I couldn't control him, if there was ever a time I wanted to be invisible, it was then.


Luckily, our stop was next and surprisingly the rest of our journey home was fine after Achille's public telling off (and mine), so maybe, just maybe, this type of "community raising" is onto something.

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Contact me: helgm1@gmail.com | The Netherlands

© 2017 by Harriot E.L. Grinnell-Moore

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