When John was about 18 months old we took him to Paris. We read about a deal on airline tickets that we couldn’t pass up and when we bought them he was about 7 months old, not walking and pretty easy. It seemed like it would be fun. Once we got over the “what were we thinking” aspect of the trip it was actually a lot of fun. Paris with a toddler is very different from Paris as a backpacking architecture student (which H. had done) or Paris as a newly engaged couple (which we had done on a trip with my grandmother). Like New York with kids , Paris with a toddler turned out to be sort of an alternate universe. Not better or worse, just different.
I’ve been to Paris three times and in many ways the trip with John was my favorite. We saw a lot less in terms of monuments and attractions, but we spent a lot more time at playgrounds and in parks with Parisians. Our hotel was near the Eiffel Tower and on our last day there we spent most of our time at a playground nearby.
John was way more interested in running up and down the grassy hill than in what was behind him. If you look closely you can see a Parisian family walking by with a tricycle. I can remember wondering if the families in this neighborhood got up each morning and thought about how lucky they were to live where they did or if they just took it for granted.
I thought about the Paris trip recently after two weeks with field trips downtown. This week we went to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and got to see how our money is made. On the previous trip, a week ago, we started at the Natural History Musuem for a self-guided hands-on lesson on rocks and minerals followed by a tour of the rocks and minerals exhibit (including the Hope Diamond). We then went over to the National Gallery of Art where John and a friend joined our homeschool co-op for a special Advent tour (showing the Biblical Christmas story through Medieval and Renaissance Art). We then walked over to the US Botanical Gardens to see their seasonal model train exhibit. All of this was free.
On the walk I took the above photo of the boys. In the background was this.
I think the Parisians most days don’t notice the Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame. They sip their cafe and walk around their beautiful city and take it for granted. But sometimes they look up and think “Hey, I’m really lucky to get to live here.” (But in French.)
At least, that’s what happens to me.