French Children and the Secret Language of Cats. And Cameo.

I read in a recent article that French kids are less annoying than kids from the USA.  Ok, they use the terms “better behaved” but I adapted it for you. The claim is that the French parents have a life beyond their kids and don’t treat them like kings and queens that run the household. They teach kids patience by not letting them interrupt conversation.  They also teach their kids to be bored and invent games on their own instead of having to be constantly entertained.  I am not sure you have a lot of exposure to kids while you are there but maybe you have observed their behavior in restaurants.  What are your thoughts?

–       OC in Boca Raton, FL

Good question, and Boca is nice.  I have family there.  What you have heard is largely true.  The kids here are doted on far less than their American counterparts.  The idea of having a professional photographer document your child’s 6-month birthday with an elaborate spread of props and lighting filters, for example, would be taken with legitimate confusion by most French parents.

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The children do appear to be more well-behaved, and certainly much less willing to take liberties with their parent’s patience by interrupting or disobeying them.  From what I’ve been told by my older French friends who have spent time abroad and have used their children’s schooling in America as a reference, the prevailing attitude of the school environment propagates this mindset well into their early adulthood.   Whereas you could cynically characterize the atmosphere in an American elementary school as “everyone is smart, everyone is a winner, here’s a participation trophy,” the atmosphere in a French primary school is almost exactly the opposite – the kids are routinely shamed or coldly corrected.  I’ve had a couple French friends actually bridge the infamous French resistance/reluctance to speak English – despite years of mandatory schooling in it – with this practice.  The slightest mispronunciation or vocabulary error is quickly and roughly corrected, leaving the students terrified to speak English publicly.

The result? Who knows for sure.  It’s clear there are less out-of-control toddlers running around restaurants and sidewalks in Paris, but to this observer’s perspective, there’s also a lot of complete self-absorbed inconsiderate young adults, and the two phenomena are probably related.  Everything has to balance out eventually.


When my 19 year old cat meows it always sounds like she’s saying, “NOW”.  She will march into a room that I am in, yell NOW and storm off and sit by her food bowl and continue to yell NOW until I give in.  It forces me to run to the food bowl and put fresh food on top of the food that’s already there.  She barely eats it but likes the ritual of food clanking into the bowl.  At times this can be slightly obnoxious, but cute, when I’m in the middle of doing something.  Do you think it’s possible to train her to say, “LATER”?  A little less pressure at times would be nice.  Thank you for your time during this serious matter.

–       LC in Madison Heights, MI

Hi LC, thanks for your timely and important question.  What you are dealing with is a very common issue amongst cat owners, and I’m here to tell you that the problem is this : you’ve been misunderstanding your cat this entire time.  She’s not saying “NOW”, nor is she saying “MEOW”, a common and pejorative stereotype that cats have had to live with for all too long.  What she is actually saying to you is “OWWW”.  You’re probably wondering – why would she say that?

Simple fact : all cats love Cameo.  Much like baby turtles are born with innate knowledge and desire to make their way to the sea, kittens are born with encyclopedic knowledge of, and appreciation for, the soul/funk mega-group that dominated the 1980’s known as Cameo.  For decades now, they’ve begged and pleaded with their owners to play some sweet, groovy Cameo for them to enjoy, to no avail.  Imagine their frustration when, time after time, their seemingly straightforward request to have you play Word Up! in its entirety is met with either indifference or more food.

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Here’s what you can do to fix this.  Next time your cat starts saying “OWWW,” and believe me, with how much she probably loves Cameo, it won’t take long, you need to get down on your knees, put your face no more than six inches from hers, and in a clear and extremely loud voice, say :

Word Up! It’s the code word

No matter where you say it

You’ll know that you’ll be heard.

Now, your cat might be so stunned that you finally understand her that she violently swipes at your face, but don’t worry, it’s a small price to pay for finally reaching a new level of understanding with your kitty.  For reference, please see below :

And just because it’s mind-blowing and you can’t stop watching it, also see this :



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