Ahhh Paris. The City of Light, Love…and Death.
I know, that must be the oddest title ever. In sharing stories about joy, I just don’t want to share the Instagram-worthy pretty tales but the real life stuff too. The path to joy is not all rainbow coloured and glittery, there’s lots of bumps along the way. That’s part of it. Learning to accept it and embrace those bumps are part of the overall journey.
In 2009 when my son was 5 years old, we decided to go to Paris. I had never been before, and imagined myself sitting at a quaint cafe, leisurely enjoying the Parisian ambiance. <<Insert loud alarm sound to wake me up from dreamland.>> The real experience was nothing like that. Not even close. Cafe au lait? Wine? Well, there was plenty of whine as in whining… but no leisurely sipping of anything.This was our first overseas adventure. My husband questioned, “do you really want to do Paris with a 5-year old?!?” As “Home Alone” is only a movie, we did not have much choice. Yes, it’ll be tough with a kid but this is our life. And it won’t get easier when we have a second kid. We just have to make it work.
In my naive head, we were cool parents. We’ll be exposing our young son to new culture, arts and history. He’ll become worldly and cultured. Afterall, Paris is the city of lights and love!Now if you just look at our pictures, then it does look fabulous. We jam-packed so many places and made priceless memories on our trip. But here’s the back story that the photos don’t tell.
When we went to the Louvre and saw the Mona Lisa painting, my son asked if he could meet her.
“Mona Lisa? Ummm… no baby. She lived a very long time ago before we were all born.”
He looked at me with big eyes and said, “so she’s dead?”
“So can I meet the artist instead?”
This was NOT going as how I envisioned.
“No, the painting was also done a long time ago by the artist Leonardo da Vinci.”
“So he’s dead too?”At the Musée Rodin, we showed the little guy the famous, “The Thinker” statue by Auguste Rodin.
“Cool! Can I meet him?”
No, this was done many years ago.
“So he’s dead?”
Yes.When we toured the impressive Palace of Versailles, he asked to meet King Louis XIV.
Sigh. “No baby, this was hundreds of years ago.”
And before I could change the topic, “so he’s dead too?”
They are all dead.I was excited to see Claude Monet’s famed water lilies paintings at Musee de l’Orangerie but dreaded the inevitable question, “can we meet Monet?”
He’s dead too okay?And of course, what were we even thinking by bringing him to Les Invalides, a.k.a Napoleon’s tomb. He’s not only dead, there’s an actual tomb to complete the death tour.
How in the world did my goal of exposing my kid to the glorious city of lights and love take such a morbid turn? As far as he was concerned, we were looking at dead people’s art, statues of dead people, buildings and castles by dead people and literally visiting where dead people are buried.
Yup. Congratulations momma on this cultured experience.If I were to dwell on the failures, the tantrums and the complaints that happened throughout the trip then I would miss out on all the happy moments that also came along with it. Sure, there were moments spiked with inquiries on the dead, but there were many more blissful experiences: running through the labyrinth at the Gardens of Versailles, snuggles atop the ferris wheel at Jardins des Tuileries, the vertigo-inducing trek up Sacre Coeur Basilica, the spectacular sunset from the Eifel Tower, and the leisurely stroll by La Seine.
As the saying goes, “you have to take the good with the bad…” It’s unrealistic to believe all will go as planned. In life’s adventures, you need to jump in, make light of the hiccups (or in our case the death inquires), persevere forward and celebrate the moments of joy.