Mommy Dearest

Okay, so this one may require a Kleenex or two……don’t say I didn’t warn you.  I was in the city today conducting a site inspection.  A site inspection is when people in the events business go to a hotel/venue to check it out before they sign a contract to hold an event.  One of the venues I visited today was a world renowned restaurant in New York City – La Grenouille.   Matriarch and founder Gisele Masson’s portrait hangs front center in the dining room, three roses are propped on the top of the frame.  Websites say that it was her husband Charles Masson Sr. who founded the restaurant (see Wikipedia reference below).  According to Gisele’s son and current general manager Phillipe, that is not the case.  Phillip says his mother had a knack for real estate.  She was amidst a real estate deal and abandoned it mid negotiations.  She stumbled upon the space at 3 East 52nd Street and purchased the property.  She called her husband, a ship captain, Charles and said “Congratulations, you own a property in New York … and a restaurant”.  The rest is history.

She had a passion for the business and her son proudly carries that torch now.  I ask Phillipe if the portrait is of his mother.  “Yes” he says.  “It was time to display it in the restaurant.  She is the reason it exists.”  Very humble and very lovingly, he credits all the success to his mother.  He proclaims his love for her and respect for all she did, clearly a devoted son.  I ask where she is now.  “She passed away three months ago”.  I immediately connect the portrait and three roses attached to it.  I tell him as a mother of a son, I am sure she is looking down at him and smiling.  I have a feeling he knows this… innately.

The subject of motherhood continues.  I confess a recent incident with my own daughter.  She was having a difficult morning getting ready for school.  Her hair wasn’t right, her clothes were wrong, the bandaid wasn’t the one she wanted and her eyes looked like she was crying.  I tried and tried and just couldn’t console her.  Finally, I convinced her to get in the car promising to take the long way to school so her eyes can get “normal” again.  I drive …slowly… around the town’s perimeter.  As I pull in front of the school, she starts breathing heavily and the tears emerge.  “I’m not ready” she states.  No problem.  I tell her to take her time.  I need gas anyway.  Off to the gas station we go.  After I fill up, I drive past the street where the school is.  “Where are you going Mom?”.  “We are going for coffee and hot chocolate” I say.  My attempt to get her comfortable and spend some quality time with her.  She is thrilled.  About a half hour later, we pull up to the school’s main entrance again.  Immediately the tears and panic sets in.  I tell her it’s time to go in and she tells me she’s not ready.  Feeling frustrated and out of ideas, I tell her I will go in and talk with the principal.  She gives me an “I dare you” look.  Out I go and ring the office buzzer.  I go in to the office and explain my daughter is in the car and doesn’t want to come in.  The principal suggests I drive around the back and she will meet me there to discreetly bring her in.  Great idea…..

As I pull up, I see the principal …… and the security guard.  Okay, I get it.  Things happen and schools have to take precautions but at the same time I have an uneasy feeling.  At this point thought, I’m stuck.  Can’t back out now.  She quickly opens the door and encourages my daughter to come out.  Hesitantly, she eventually goes in and I drive away…..sobbing of course.  What have I just done?  Turns out, she was fine.  She went right to her classroom and when she came home, she scolded me and said “You didn’t have to call the principal”.  That was the end of it.

My colleague proceeds to tell me her story.  (Get the Kleenex ready.)  She is in second grade (age 7) and her father had a heart attack.  It had been several weeks since she saw him and was missing him terribly.  Her eyes swell with tears.  She told her mother she wanted to see him.  Her mother told her to stop carrying on.  She missed her daddy.  Her mother put her in the car and drove her to the police station.  She told the police that she was carrying on and needed to be locked up (wink wink at the officer).  What happened next?  They locked her up!!!!!!!!!!  At this point in the story, the tears are flowing.  I cannot even imagine what a seven year old is thinking.  “I miss my daddy so they put me in jail”?  Sadly, her dad suffered another heart attack and passed away a few years later.  This tough love clearly damaged this child.  It is uncalled for and, in my opinion, unforgivable.  Eventually, my colleague had a falling out with her mother and, to this day, still does not speak with her.

I’m a believer in following through and appropriate tough love.   My heart goes out to all the moms who struggle with children’s tantrums and emotional land mines.  This, however, I cannot condone.  We are the adults and, like it or not, what we do, say and act out leaves an impression on our children.  It’s fine to teach lessons but lets make sure we don’t damage our children’s delicate hearts in the process.

Below from Wikipedia:

La Grenouille (French: “The Frog”) is a historic French restaurant located at 3 East 52nd Street (between Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue) in Midtown Manhattan in New York City.[1] It was founded by Charles Masson, Sr., a former Henri Soulé apprentice, and Masson’s wife, Gisele in 1962 and quickly became the location of choice among the fashion industry‘s most elite designers.

Aside from fine French cuisine, La Grenouille is famous for its lavish floral arrangements, a tradition started by Charles Masson, Sr. and continued by his son, Philippe Masson. It is also the last operating New York French haute cuisine restaurant from the 1960s, a time when it dominated New York City’s French haute cuisine alongside LutèceLe Pavillon, La Côte Basque and La Caravelle.[2]

Philippe Masson currently operates the restaurant. Charles Masson Jr. was the General Manager from 1974 to 2014 with a hiatus between 1993 to 1998.[3] It is still a hotspot among those in the fashion industry, including creative director of ElleJoe Zee.[4]

In 2013, Zagat’s gave it a food rating of 28, the highest in the East 50s, and rated it the 7th-best restaurant in New York City.[1][5]