Pamela Druckerman is the author of three books including Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting. She’s also a contributing opinion writer at the International New York Times.

Refugees in Calais, Reading and Waiting

“You like the place?”

That’s what people in the “Jungle” of Calais keep asking me. They want to know what I think of this dirty, unelectrified stretch of land below a highway, filled with camping tents, plastic-covered sheds and frightening toilets. It’s a temporary home for several thousand people, most of whom have recently fled East Africa or the Middle East.

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How Not to Think About Bears - Pamela Druckerman

How Not to Think About Bears

I’ve been vacationing in western North Carolina and northern Georgia since I was a kid. I arrive, marvel at the mountains and put on an unconvincing Southern drawl. In recent summers I’ve brought my own kids, too (picture tiny people saying “y’all” in a faintly French accent).

But last summer I got some scary news. Black bears — several mothers and their cubs — had been spotted near where we usually stay. I’d never seen a bear, or worried about them. But black bears are thriving in the region, and so are people, so “human-bear interactions” are becoming more common.

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How to Find Your Place in the World After Graduation

How to Find Your Place in the World After Graduation

Like practically everyone else, I gave a commencement speech last week. Mine was for the Paris College of Art, an American art and design school in France whose roughly 200 students hail from 48 countries.

In deciding what to say, I couldn’t rely on my own experience with commencement speeches. When I graduated from college, a United States senator delivered his stump speech on Poland, then wished us luck.

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On Mother’s Day, Embrace Embarrassment

On Mother’s Day, Embrace Embarrassment

Earlier this year, I took my kids to see a soccer match in Paris. Along with practically everyone else in the stands, we chanted “Allez les Bleus” — Go Blues — to cheer on the French team.

But a few minutes into the game, my 6-year-old started to look uncomfortable. “Mommy, it’s not les ‘blooes,’ it’s les ‘bleuh,’ ” he whispered.

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Eat Up. You’ll Be Happier.

Eat Up. You’ll Be Happier.

MY father-in-law, an anthropologist, likes to talk about the time he ate dog penis. He was visiting a remote town in South Korea, and the mayor invited him to lunch. Once they’d finished the dog soup (not a big deal), a waitress carried out the boiled penis on a silver plate. The mayor cut it lengthwise with scissors, then served half to each of them.

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Decoding the Rules of Conversation

My kids have recently picked up a worrying French slang word: bim (pronounced “beam”). It’s what children say in the schoolyard here after they’ve proved someone wrong, or skewered him with a biting remark. English equivalents like “gotcha” or “booyah” don’t carry the same sense of gleeful vanquish, and I doubt British or American kids use them quite as often.

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The Clutter Cure’s Illusory Joy

I recently discovered the secret to livening up even the dullest conversation: Introduce the topic of clutter. Everyone I meet seems to be waging a passionate, private battle against their own stuff, and they perk up as soon as you mention it.

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Just Another Parisian

About four years ago, a friend invited me to lunch with some cartoonists from Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical newspaper. Charlie was looking for new writers. I was looking for work.

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Talking to Kids About Sex

One of the many problems with parenting is that kids keep changing. Just when you’re used to one stage, they zoom into another. I realized this was happening again recently, when my 8-year-old asked me about babies. She knows they grow in a mother’s belly, but how do they get in there to begin with?

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How to Be French

I have an unusual item on my to-do list, wedged between home repairs and unwritten thank-you notes: Become French. I’ve begun the long process of gathering documents to apply for French citizenship.

I’ll remain American, too, of course. I’d be a dual citizen. But becoming French would bring perks. I could vote in French and European elections, stand in faster lines at some airports, work anywhere in the European Union and — crucially — make my children French, too.

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