In Praise of Tears – Part III

Just to preface the third and final installment of “In Praise of Tears” I have to state for the record that Franck now thinks he can get away with anything due to my effusive blog yesterday.

This morning I had gotten Charlotte and Camille dressed, coiffed, and equipped for school, given Clémentine her bottle and put her to sleep and I was finally ready for one of my favorite moments in the day, my long hot shower.

Franck, who had been lingering over breakfast, had the audacity to say he wanted to shave first before I steamed up the mirror. When I protested rather hotly he fixed me with a cheeky look.

Tais-toi femme! If you are forgetting how wonderful I am you should go and read your blog from yesterday. I can do no wrong.”

Mon Dieu. I’ve created a latin lover / monster hybrid.

*****

In Praise of Tears – Part III

I asked Franck the other day if as a child he wore his heart on his sleeve, like Charlotte does. He said he was exactly like her, living completely emotionally in the moment. Although he no longer cries at the drop of a hat, he didn’t and still doesn’t see any point of being any other way.

I think if you asked most other French people how they are able to express their emotions so freely, they would be puzzled. From what I can tell they simply don’t see the point in repressing anything. Contrary to many Anglo-Saxons, emotions for them are simply things to be lived, not managed. I, on the other hand, was brought up in a society where showing emotions was generally viewed as a sign of weakness. However, I completely disagree with this now, and have come to view the Latin way of letting the tears flow as a sign of emotional strength.

The stark contrast in the emotional nature of my two oldest girls is a perfect case in point. Camille had a completely different way of reacting to my parents’ departure than Charlotte. She remained stoutly dry-eyed, and when I told her it was OK to cry if she felt like it she leapt around in her bed like a jumping jack and replied, “Oh, I’m not sad.”

“You’re not going to miss Nana and Grandpa?” I asked.

“I will, but I just don’t think about it.” Yes folks, I’m here to tell you that denial can begin as early as six years old.

I know for a fact that Camille adores my parents every bit as much as Charlotte, and that she is going to miss them terribly, yet she has somehow inherited my tendency to stuff everything down inside. However, it comes out, whether we like it or not.

And sure enough, it did come out the day after my parents left. She broke down in hot, gushing tears several times for things like not finding her favorite stuffy, me “pulling her hair” as I brushed it, and the fact that her favorite cartoon was over. She was tired and cranky and preoccupied, classic signs of the emotional hangover I have come to know so well. Charlotte, on the other hand, having gotten the tears out of her system the night before woke up bright eyed and ready to take on the world.

Over the months to come I’m hoping that being in France will help me teach Camille (and me) to cry more, not for Charlotte to cry less.