I’ve traveled much of the world–I had to count how many countries I’d been in over the past five years to fill out a form a while ago, and at the time, it was 15. I’ve come to the following conclusion from my travels: adults are definitely not equally attractive everywhere you go, but kids are uniformly, absolutely adorable, absolutely everywhere.
I have to say, though: French kids kick it up a notch. I’ve always heard about how much better the French are supposed to be at raising well-behaved kids than us Americans are, but I hadn’t actually spent any time with a French child since the mid-2000s. That all changed this evening.
Hoping to keep myself from spending the entire weekend holed up in my apartment, I bought tickets to three random concerts this weekend–Friday night, Saturday night, and Sunday evening. I didn’t realize until I showed up at the Philharmonic today that the Sunday evening thing was a “family, participatory” event. So, there I was: 799 parents with kids, plus me, listening to Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, both Strauss and Lully versions.
In the US, this whole experience would have been hell, I think. In Paris, it was a totally different situation. For two hours, those kids sat and listened politely. When it was time for everyone to get up and either dance or bang on a drum, selon their assignment, everyone got up and either danced or banged on a drum, with great enthusiasm. Through the whole thing, there was no talking, no whispering, no video games, and no whining–I think I heard what was probably a two-year-old wail at one point, and that was it. Perhaps I am unfair to my compatriots, but I am pretty sure that in the US that audience would have been a sea of pouting, whining, talking, Candy Crush, and parents surreptitiously checking their emails. Please don’t think I’m claiming that French children are a bunch of little angels–Adam Gopnik describes the French playground as Lord Of The Flies. But, their behavior around adults can be impeccable, which is a hell of a lot more than I can say about my own kid.
So, yeah–all kids everywhere are equally adorable, but some have that little bit of charm–and good behavior–that makes them…just a teeeny bit more.
Of course, Zipf’s Law visits us at the Philharmonie de Paris, just as it does anywhere else:
- la sonorité: (of an instrument) sound, tone.