We thought maybe laughing at our expense was more fun than another roundup of smug parenting tips.
Stupid things we tried so you don’t have to
1. Assumed nobody would steal a stroller
We parked our sexy Baby Jogger City Select double stroller with the other bikes in the inner locked courtyard of a respectable Paris apartment building. Why? We lived on the fifth floor and it didn’t fit in the lift folded or unfolded. The parent-to-parent conversation went something like this: Who would be mean enough to steal a stroller? Robbing babies? What’s next?
The next morning, in the words of the baby and toddler with whom we travel, the stroller was: “All gone!” We managed the rest of the Paris trip with a baby carrier and a new umbrella stroller.
2. Taught the kids to play echo
The echo game is really fun outdoors under bridges. But what happens when you start touring Europe’s grand cathedrals, and your kids think it’s okay to yodel in a holy place of worship? The only thing to tell fellow travelers: Sorry, their parents are idiots.
3. Took the toddlers into an exclusive wine boutique in St. Emilion.
Why on earth would we do that? We were referred by the tourist office because the official Maison du Vin was closing. They must have assumed our kids would mellow out once they had some wine, like Pamela Druckerman says French kids do. JUST KIDDING.
If ever there was a time to use the expression “bull in a china shop,” this is it. Confronted with a very narrow space and jeroboams of Bordeaux as tall as she was, our two-year-old daughter accidentally dropped a small toy. Bending over to get it upset a crystal arrangement that cost the equivalent of many people’s monthly rent. This happened in the first two minutes. How we coped? Our kid is polite, so she said sorry of her own accord. One parent removed the small folk. The other enjoyed a tasting and made smart purchases. We were not charged for the accident.
4. Let a kid bring a balloon into the Musée de l’Orangerie
You may find at Paris attractions that you wait in line even when you have advance purchased a ticket. When the line gets long, and the attraction happens to be in a Paris park, you let the kid roam. It just so happened that one of our social tots made friends with another family. That family had balloons. They gave our kid the balloon just when we got to the gallery doors.
Somehow, in the sheer relief of entry and attempts to figure out stroller parking, our toddler managed to hang onto the balloon. 10 minutes later, she popped it in the deathly silent “Nymphéas” a.k.a. Monet water lilies room.
Did we mention it was New Year’s Day? You’ve never seen so many hungover adults jump. And even puke. And assume terrorism. If they could have guillotined us, they would.
5. Hiked in heat to lunch at a Michelin-starred restaurant at toddler naptime
Have we had success taking toddlers to nice restaurant meals? Yes. Was this experience particularly foolhardy? Heck, yes. We were at the end of a summer jaunt in the countryside of Beaujolais and we found out there was a Michelin restaurant in the neighboring village. We were trying to cram in one last perfect summer in France experience. So we hiked through the vines to get there with one toddler on each parent’s back.
During the hike, the realization that this was sweaty, nuts, and approaching naptime, started to sink in. But then, we were so very hungry. With a clothes change in the restaurant loo, and a heck of a lot of not-on-the-menu tasters between courses, we made it through. The food and wine were lovely. In fact, the complicated serving style, over-attentive staff, and shiny table accessories might have made it easier for dining with tots because there were so many distractions.
No, there were no other kids there. Yes, we would be able to visit again. But given the size of the bill, it would have been worth treating the experience with a smidge more calm and dignity.
6. Paris metro
Just don’t do it. We spent a decent amount of time dinging up our kids and our umbrella stroller on the turnstile, because we didn’t actually believe a stroller that small wouldn’t fit. It won’t. All those Paris mommy bloggers are right.
While we were struggling, a down-and-out dude stole our ticket and slid through next to us. #Yourewelcome
One baby, two parents, and an umbrella stroller is the only scenario which is manageable. If you have multiple small folk and have to carry your offspring and your stroller on the many, many stairs, it’s a pain in the tuckus.
7. Flew business class
We do not normally fly fancy. But occasionally, when those miles kick in, we’ve tried it. Business class can make life nicer if you fly with a small baby. If you have toddlers who get their own seat, you’ll find that the lack of coziness or intimacy with your seatmate, which is the main perk of the upgrade, just makes toddlers unsupervised, uncomfortable and scared during take off and landing.
Why it doesn’t work: Your kid wants to be cozy with you. Your fellow passengers in business are even less understanding than the average economy Joe, because often they resent kids being there. Economy rows are better for containing little people who want to hop up and go. Finally, you’re really not going to get to enjoy the perks anyway. Nothing kills that free champagne buzz faster than a tantrum over a seat belt at landing.
Image: Flickr Lisa.davis