Fundamental Truths About Traveling with Kids OR American Cheese in Paris
Fundamental truths about traveling with kids
1. You will always be late.
The Eiffel Tower was the place where Lauren decided to be on the anniversary of the exact minute of her birth 11 years ago. We planned for months. Bought a special birthday outfit. Bought tickets online for the Eiffel Tower to guarantee we got to the top. We needed 5, we bought 15 (we were overexcited and submitted our order three times apparently). Found an apartment to rent in Paris. Bought very expensive train tickets. We were ready.
Had a great train ride. Got to Gare de Lyon. Figured out the metro. Got to apartment. Except we couldn't get into apartment until 4:00. It was 1:00. Kids and I went grocery shopping while Doug guarded the luggage. Finally, met up with the person who was to give us the key. He explained the apartment. Stuff like; Nope, that is NOT a double oven. The bottom unit is the teeny, tiny dishwasher. The trundle bed was broken but there was a heated towel bar. There wasn't a sink in the bathroom but there was the biggest jet tub I'd ever seen across the hall (still within the apartment- thank goodness). After a long day of traveling, having started at 6:10 am, Lauren saw the tub, announced her intention to take a bath, put on her pajamas, and stay in for the night. WHAT?! (Skip to 'Truth 4' if you need to).
We woke up early. Kids moseyed along. Caroline took a bath. That's when we figured out we had no hot water. None. Cold showers. Even a cold shower could not speed up this clan. We left at 10:10. That left us 20 minutes to get to the Eiffel Tower for our timed entry tickets at 10:30. Don't forget I paid triple for these things. I really started to sweat. We were never going to make it. Lauren was going to dissolve into a puddle right there at the base of the tower and this would forevermore be referred to as "THE WORST BIRTHDAY EVER." Plan B: Doug takes Lauren. Take 2 of the 15 tickets and run like crazy to the tower. Caroline, Sam, and I either make it or we don't. Train gets to station. 90 seconds to dash to the tower. Yeah, it's NOT that close. Halfway there Sam announces it was too late. We walk. Gives Caroline a chance to breathe anyway. But what to my wondering eyes should appear? No. Not a miniature sled and eight tiny reindeer, though that would have been cool as well. Lauren and Doug had made it and were on the other side waiting for us. We all got in. I even had time to give away 6 of the extra tickets. The Birthday Miracle. Incidentally, it's not that easy to give things away. People are suspicious.
2. Kids seek the familiar.
The Louvre was a one painting mission. Find Mona. Because...kids seek the familiar and they all knew about the Mona Lisa. We missed her, found her, and photographed her. Kids wanted to go home. Instead we went to rest our feet on a banquette in front of a naked statue. That's when we had a long discussion about anatomy. There in the Louvre. The volume of the nakedness, the correctness of the anatomy, and why did Cleopatra:
a. not look Egyptian,
b. choose suicide by snake
c. get naked before she provoked the snake to bite her
They really liked the Louvre.
3. Parents are embarrassing.
Next day, we sought out the Shakespeare and Company bookstore. Sam and Doug were both appalled by my purchase of Tropic of Capricorn. Sam thought I bought porn. Doug was horrified to learn it was a Christmas present. I was horrified only when I realized I bought the prequel to Tropic of Cancer. I felt a little better knowing the book was banned in 1938.
4.Kids are unpredictable
I worried the kids would be bored with Notre Dame. They weren't. We didn't even need to climb the towers but I did spend a bunch of euros when they all wanted to light candles and pray for people and missing pets. Didn't see that coming.
Back to "Kids seek the familiar", last day there. We needed lunch. A cheap lunch. Found a Subway (the sandwich shop- not the metro). Kids were deliriously happy. Why? Because they could have American cheese. In Paris. Oh, the irony. We live in Switzerland; the land of cheese. Just no American cheese.
Even though we were always late, parents are embarrassing, and kids are unpredictable, I have to say that was one of the best trips we've had. Doug said it was magical. I agree.