Sunday, May 28, 2006

Similar, but Not the Same

The drawback to traveling anywhere with toddlers is, in order to keep everyone happy, it is necessary to go to children’s museums, McDonald’s and parks—in other words, to do the same things you would do at home. Why would you torture yourself by traveling half way around the world to do the exact same things?

They are the same things, but they are not the same. Taking the kids to play in the Luxembourg Gardens is like stepping into a Parisian painting. Yes, it is a playground where they run and jump and climb, but they do so in a sophisticated, symmetrical garden lined with trees and carefully placed flowers. They play with the young, well-dressed French children and discover you don’t need a common language to climb together.

We took our kids to the Luxembourg Gardens, but also to the Pompidou Centre, a bona fide museum, where there was an exhibition on faces. The 15 minutes of entertainment probably wasn’t worth the 15-euro entrance fee, but they went and they had fun!

We rode around in taxis, took the elevators up the Eiffel Tower and walked and walked and walked (with them in the stroller, of course). We visited toy stores, ate ice cream and generally enjoyed ourselves. In some ways, you could argue that Paris was meant to be savored with all the curiosity, eagerness and exuberance of a child.

In the evenings, my husband and I had time alone (thanks to the babysitter who stayed the week). We went to our favorite restaurants, ate, drank and reminisced about falling in love in the city of love. We reconnected with waiters we knew and restaurants we cherished.

Paris with children was an colorful journey filled with sweet, simple pleasures, but as a couple we also reconnected with the stunning, sophisticated city we knew and loved. It was similar to trips we took alone, but it was not the same. It was even better.