The phasing out of practicing the goûter occurs as young Parisian adults earn real jobs where they are afforded an hour or two for lunch breaks and simply do not find it necessary to have a 4 o’clock snack time.
However, in the typical day-to-day life of a Parisian child and growing teenager, the goûter is law. Typically sugary, it’s an unsung rule that all children get a snack after school at 4:30 p.m. or for children above petit collège, anytime after their classes are complete, which can go on until 6 p.m.
Not only are children in desperate need of a biscuit, a very european version of a cookie only a bit blander and almost cracker-like, but if you’ve forgotten the goûter for the child, all hell breaks loose.
With health often appearing more as a trend than a necessity, you see many parents taking notes from the hip//cool Californian moms, and replacing pain au chocolat with fruit compotes and nuts. Such influences I am guilty of implementing. Luckily, the French-Italian mixed children that I work with are very aware of good health and eating nutritious foods, making my job as enforcer much simpler.
Something else that I find engrained in this snack culture, is the need to show everyone what you’re eating. On first glance, it looks like showing off, but I noticed the four-year-old, Giovanni, whom I’m responsible for, will even show his friends his unappetizing snacks, with a very effective, <<Éyo, regarde! J’ai des raisins secs!>> which of course means, “Hey look! I have raisins!” After all these verbal exchanges is an actual trade deal, where children, parents and au pairs/nannies share their snacks with one another; absolutely no regard for whether or not the other children have allergies or are even allowed to have sugary treats etc. The amount of times, Giovanni has run up to me with chocolate covering his face when I never gave him chocolate, is legitimately uncountable. Universally, it’s chill. Unlike real Californian moms, where there would be hell to pay if their child had a blue tongue, after explicitly stating to the school the different dyes and foods their child cannot eat. In Paris, hell isn’t a currency you can pay with and children just do whatever they want.