Nov books… some strange overlap

After I finished How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk (see last month’s review), I started reading The Trainable Cat: A Practical Guide to Making Life Happier for You and Your Cat by John Bradshaw and Sarah Ellis. Both books discuss discipline and how to elicit the behavior you’re seeking. In children, punishment can lead to defiance, unworthiness, and revenge issues. We deprive the child of the inner process of facing his misbehavior and possibly the natural consequences of his actions.  There are many ways to encourage kids to act responsibly.

In cats, we similarly aren’t really teaching anything through punishment.  I had been tapping our new kitten, CoCo, on the nose when she pounces on our other cat, Mo, or spraying her with a tiny bit of water.  Not only did this not stop the behavior, but I learned in the book that she can’t mentally connect the two.  I was actually teaching her to dislike me.  For both children and cats most of the time, the less attention we give the problem behavior, the better. What I need to do is notice positive behavior, tie it to a signal or word, and reward it immediately with a treat. (Just like when SG got a 100 on a spelling test and we celebrated with ice cream. Now she’s asking me for help practicing her words for the next test!)

Both books talk about brain development.  Children are actually physically incapable of some reasoning skills and they may truly not hear you sometimes when you talk to them.  Cats brains are largely the same as their pre-domesticated wildcat brains were.

In both cases, understanding motivations and priorities helps a great deal.  When they want to do what we are asking is when we’ll have the most success.  And, cats and children live mostly in the present.  Cats don’t have the capability to reflect on the past or plan for the future.  They both don’t think much about what we (the adults) are thinking.

Anyway, I learned a ton from this book and I’m still not finished reading it. As we are moving into a rental house, I’ll need to read more about smooth transitions for both cats.

* * * * *

As if that weren’t coincidence enough, I read 2 “living and renovating in Paris” books:

Pancakes in Paris: Living the American Dream in France by Craig Carlson (recommended by Cheryl last month) and L’appart by David Lebovitz.

Carlson’s goal was to find investors, move to Paris, and transform an old French café into a vintage American diner called “Breakfast In America.” Along the way, he sources his “exotic” ingredients, has staff challenges and huge cultural differences in labor laws, figures out the French banking system, makes love connections for his employees and for himself, and forms a true community and extended family in his restaurants.

Notre Dame is so much lovelier from behind. And seeing it now, its grandeur stirs my soul more than ever. I wonder if this feeling is the closest one can get to understanding the unfathomable. It makes me think of all those who passed over this bridge before me…of how short life is…how it moves on, like the Seine below, with or without us. And I think of how important it is to seize the day, to be grateful for every precious moment while we’re alive.

I loved Carlson’s sense of humor and irony, as well as his sharing of his thought processes and vulnerabilities.  We learn what really matters to him. Recommend.

In Lebovitz’s L’Appart, the chef from San Francisco decides to move to Paris and having been there for a few years in a rented apartment, figures that he should buy an apartment since he will be living there long-term.  It is very surprising how difficult it is to do any kind of construction work in Paris!

I’d never left my home country before, except for an occasional vacation, and hadn’t considered all that was involved in making a definitive move overseas.  To say that I was unprepared would not be an exaggeration. The learning curve was so steep that I often fell off with a thud.

I thought it was interesting, though after reading the previous book about the restaurant, I was a bit tired of reading about all these problems.  Definitely recommend though.

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