In April, I took the boys to Paris over spring break. When I returned to work, a co-worker stopped by to welcome me back. He said, “I don’t know of any mom who would go to Paris and take her kids.”
When I decided to go to Paris to fulfill my lifelong dream, it just did not occur to me not to take the kids. Of course, the reality of the trip differed from the decades of daydreams I’ve had about café life in The City of Lights. Certainly museums were on the agenda, the boys got to go to the Louvre, the Rodin museum, and the Musee d’Orsay among others. We took the creepy, damp underground tour of the catacombs. We ordered café au lait and chocolat chaud when we needed an afternoon refreshment.
But the high points of the trip were the little things. Things like: figuring out how to buy Metro ticket from the only automatic dispenser in Paris with no instructions in English, Max haggling with a vendor over the price of a fedora, happening upon a magician performing in the street and Gus requesting “Monsieur! L’addition, sil vous plais!” each time we had a meal out, seeing the Eiffel Tower lit up, wandering lost through the streets of Paris late at night and retracing our steps the next day to find out we walked right by the Metro stop, discovering the bliss of the chocolate shops and boulangeries along with the envy of realizing that Parisians can eat those delights everyday and any day.
I didn’t bother to explain to them why it was so important to me to visit the grave of the French writer Colette, instead emphasizing the cool points they’ll have for rest of their life just for seeing Jim Morrison’s grave. We tried to find Chopin’s final resting place but the twisting, hodgepodge of tombs that is Cimetiere du Pere Lachaise proved too much for us. And it sure seemed we must of have either gotten on or off every single metro stop in Paris at least once.
But the real reason I took the boys with me was because they knew it was a place I have always wanted to see. I wanted them to know that Mom can do cool stuff too. I don’t want them to ever hear them say, “You know, I’ve always wanted to do or see such-and-such, but I never did.” I think the best way to prevent that is for them to never hear those words from me.
Do you travel much with your kids? Why is it important to you? Do you have a favorite trip that you’ve shared as a family?