Yesterday some friends and I wandered les Jardins des Tuileries. A national holiday in honor of the armistice, the gardens were packed. True, everyone was just on vacation last week, but no one complained about another day off. I have been thinking about the different mentalities in regards to childhood, vacation, and work. In the states, children are to be children. We prize the importance of playing, of not having too much homework, of getting to enjoy precious years with no responsibilities. Here, childhood has lots of pressure. I hear nine year old kids fretting about doing well on their bac (a test given at the end of high school). True, the French get vacations, but while in school, they work with a diligence that you don’t always see in the states. It is almost as if the systems are switched. The French, once they start working, work a 35 hour work week with about 5 weeks paid vacation, plus random bank holidays. As Americans, we value playing as children, but sometimes forget its importance, or haven’t the luxury of remembering it, as adults.