L’enfant Roi

Apr 9, 2007 | French Farmhouse Design, On Motherhood | 4 comments

The French have an expression, “l’enfant roi – translated: “The Child King.” It’s a term they use for American children in particular – it’s meaning is pretty self explanatory.

I have my own expression, “little no necked monsters” its from a favorite film of mine, Tennessee Williams’ “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” – it’s meaning is pretty self explanatory.

Even before I had heard either of these expressions I vowed that they or anything of the like would never…NEVER be applied to my offspring. Such a commitment is one of perseverance and sheer determination in this egalitarian, entitlement syndrome driven culture that we live in.

Babycakes in not of course l’enfant parfait” (the perfect child) but at 22 months he can sit quietly on our laps for most of the church service, eat at restaurant better than any 5 year old I have ever seen and in the last almost two years I have not moved a plant, a statue, antique book or picture frame. My house is NOT babyproofed. After just a few months training there is no gate at the bottom our our stairs. Babes does not even venture forth onto the apron of the driveway and when he points to the street he says “non, non!”

Not so much for Sophia.

Aidan and I took a mom and tot french lesson this morning. And sadly so did Sophia and her worn out, frustrated, wuss of a mother. Yes, I called a fellow mom a “wuss”. You would too.

Thankfully this class was a complimentary “see how you like it” 60 minute session. Everything was cool at first, I had an unfair advantage because I knew what the teacher was saying and so did Aidan. But he still had his moments of frustration as an object was introduced and played with only to be put back into the teachers bag of tricks moments later.
Precious Sohpia on the other hand had about 45 minutes of frustration. She screamed for 45 minutes out of 60. Yes, screamed. That nasty, nasty tantrum scream that when not handled properly I am sure has led many mothers to angry discipline that they never thought themselves capable of. How her Mommy isn’t roaring drunk by eight pm is beyond me.

Poor Aidan kept looking at little “precious” Sophia like, “What is your problem?” He had never seen anything like it.

Poor Sophia’s mom would ruin the flow of “french only” by exclaiming in frustration, “Mommy is trying to learn something here Sophia!”
Yeah, that will work.

Perhaps Mommy should have opened a child rearing book. “Dare to Discipline” for example?

At one point the little angel sat up against the wall and started bashing her head backwards into it over and over again- the school director came bounding towards the window above thinking something was really wrong inside our little classroom.


Two times Mommy dearest mentioned how good Aidan was being! And why couldn’t little Sophia be good like little Aidan. –
Hello? Awkward!
I wanted to tell her because he knows he would have been hauled out of this room a long time ago for a little swat sur ses feses!!!! (On his bum!)

Three times Mommy asked the teacher if she should leave. I kept thinking, are you kidding me? The other mom (and only other mom present besides myself, this was a really small class) had TWO children in there today, both speaking darling french back to the teacher, a feat which, with two children enrolled since January she has paid well over $1,000 for. Hmmmm, should you leave so we can actually hear the teacher above your screaming no necked little monster???

Vous pouvez dire, Oui?”

It was incredible. The polite french teacher said nothing and after the class actually encouraged her to come back – please God no! That’s the French for you. People think they are rude – but they are polite in most cases beyond our wildest imagination.

I can’t say that if I shell out some of my garage sale money for Aidan and I to take this class I will be able to ferme ma bouche (shut my mouth) if Sophia comes back and screams for an entire class again. I don’t know how polite it will be to lodge my eyes permanently in the back of my head as Sophia cracks her head in frustration on the classroom wall or how polite it will be for me to haul that mother into the hallway myself and verbally try to save her from herself.

I just don’t know.

Pray with me that little Sophia takes up Kindermusic or Gymboree or something. Anything but French lessons!!!


  1. hellomelissa

    no-necked monster indeed!

    my mom used to say that whenever you say “my child will NEVER do that!” before you have kids, you’ve doomed yourself. that’s inevitably the FIRST thing they’ll do.

    i ran into so many situations like the one you’re describing when my children were smaller.

    i’m glad they’re bigger now, but sometimes those little discipline problems escalate into BIG discipline problems.

  2. FarmgirlCyn

    Perhaps, just perhaps, this mama NEEDS a bit of loving advice from you? So, it is quite possible she will be back. And is it quite possible that she is a ministry opportunity?? We do not(as mamas and homemakers), get out there to save the world, as many ministers are called, but we ARE called to our little circle. Our little radius that we venture into. “This little light of mine…”
    I love you.

  3. paris parfait

    Oh, no! That mama needs to get her child private lessons, if she can’t keep her quiet. And obviously if she’s not quiet, she’s not paying attention – not to mention disrupting everyone else’s attention – so what’s the point? Sometimes I wonder about women like that.

  4. Lise

    I know exactly what you mean, my nephew is an “enfant roi” and his mother does not see any harm in not disciplining him… she actually says that!! But there will be a price to pay in the future, on both his part and that of my sister-in-law. My brother can not reason with her to understand the harm she is doing.


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