The Loh Life is writer/performer Sandra Tsing Loh's weekly take on life, family, and pop culture in early 21st century Southern California.
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Iceland: Pardon My French

I don't know why I crave this particular brand of self-flagellation, but every so often I become mesmerized by a parenting book that tells me everything I'm doing is wrong. A year ago, it was the the TIGER Mother book. this year, it's French mother book, by Pamela Druckerman, called "Bringing Up BeBe."

According to this mesmerizing account, French women don't get fat evenduring pregnancy, where they gain no more than 23 pounds-- After which they eschew breastfeeding, so their bodies can bounce back-- Because even a birth prompts little break in marital relations, since typical enfants francaises sleep through the night-that's 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.-at two months old.

If French mothers must visit a playground, which they will do in dress, heels, and chignon, never sweatpants, due to their Catherine Deneuve demeanors they project such cool authority that their tots are universally well-behaved.

They say bonjour, contentedly eat three course meals without squalling, and wouldn't think of asking for a snack at any hour but four in the afternoon, when apparently all of France has a snack. It's called a "gouter."

It's hard for me to READ about this beautiful civilization without feeling, by contrast, like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. American Me? I gained 50 pounds per pregnancy-- and, with all due respect to the magic of adult relations, even French ones-eating what I ate-Carl's Jr., fries, six-dollar burgers--was some of the most fun I've ever had without laughing. And why skip breastfeeding?

It's one of those rare times in a woman's life when you can lie down and nap and still feel like you're getting something done. Some American pediatricians even allow beer, to relax the mother. Oh Man, I wish I was breastfeeding now! I guess I still can-I don't need an actual child. Pardon me if I take the afternoon off-I'm delivering needed vitamins and developing the IQ of my invisible baby.

Not that I'm proud. There was the time my 11 year old daughter-who fancies herself a bit of a writer, and a comedian-see how I'm rationalizing this already? Anyway, she wanted to see the movie Bridesmaids-- Which I knew had some off-color language-- Which she assured me she'd already heard on the playground, or on Disney Channel rap-- Made sense to me-- And to me a hit comedy produced by WOMEN is such a fantastic cultural event, like Woodstock-- We have to go!

But of course her little sister wanted to go to Gnomeo and Juliet-- But I couldn't leave either alone in a movie theatre-- that would be irresponsible-- So I end up using candy to bribe my nine year old into attending an R rated movie.

Can it get worse? Possibly yes, next week.