The trip was no joke. Chengdu- Amsterdam- Paris. Not enough sleep, a lot of luggage. The hard part is the hand luggage, especially with two sleeping babies and no gate service for strollers in Paris (At least for internal flights. I don’t know about interntional ones). We got to Paris at a time of day when had we still been in China, Maher would be waking up to take care of the children for the morning and I would be going to bed for my catch-up sleep. Some of that still happened: the children were soon up for the day, or should I say night.
Considering the night begins around four or five pm for now, the days are rather short. We’ve managed to pack in a lot of play already. The parks and squares in every neighbourhood are children friendly and a dream considering Chengdu. We went to a little one yesterday. It is ten minutes from our hotel. There were pigeons to chase, a manege or merry-go-round that made L and me dizzy, and a sandy play area where R made caterpillar type movements with his entire body, belly down. I wondered if our hotel’s laundrey service would be quick enough to keep up.
There L and R met Nelson, a two and a half year old Parisian friend. They put sand all over his clothes. His caretaker, a chic older woman was a little nervous around these two children who had just arrived from China. First they messed up his clean clothes, and then they wouldn’t return his toys.
This morning Maher and Houda took L and R to the Jardin du Luxembourg, a beautiful park not far from our hotel. They saw a traditional French puppet show. L called “Little red riding hood” Daisy. She must have liked it. R said “oui” like the other children around him.
Then this afternoon we visited yet another. The park Monceau where we met some friends and their children. The four year old girl goes to a school in the park. Fun! Again we chased pigeons, played with a ball, picked up sticks and smelled rose petals. Here the people sitting in the grass don’t look at L and R to say “how cute”, but rather to make sure they are not stepped on.
The afternoon was an interesting one for me. Here are some random thoughts and observations.
Children dress very well. They are mini Parisians in their perfectly ironed, mainly white, matching designer clothes and shoes.
A two and a half year old boy wearing a long sleeve shirt with collars stood and spoke like a politician.
A little girl told R that the sound from him plucking on a balloon was too noisy. We were at the park.
A four year old girl was upset that her room was a mess. Her mum told her to be careful because of it. L and R had been playing there.
I feel like a rebel because I wear torn jeans, and clothes much less expensive than the children on the posh Paris streets. A rebel without a cause. I have always had this battle with Paris. Having children sends the message home much more quickly. A rebel also because I don’t expect my toddlers to sit and behave like adults in a fancy restaurant or to dress and speak like civil adults either.
Maher thought our children went wild in Paris. We later agreed that there has been no change. Yes they are very tired from the trip and jet lag but it is a matter of relativity. Everyone raises children differently of course. From my few experiences here I can only generalise and say what very little I have come to understand. The feeling I get is there are certain standards, rules and etiquettes that everyone adheres to. There seems to be little leeway for differences.
As long as I have any say in the matter I hope L and R can simply play wihout having too many rules. I don’t know the rules to teach or enforce them anyway. And it would be very hard for me to see my children being subdued and broken by them I would like R and L to make a mess and not feel guilty about it. Yes to clean up after! To be free in their minds and bodies.
The school in the park has a long waiting list, many requirements including a test for their three year old applicants, and an hour long interview of the parents. They want to know how the parents raise their children. It is a private school in a posh Parisian neighbourhood. There are many such areas. Some of the kids are driven to school in Ferarri’s!
Not really belonging to any society allows me some freedom and privileges. I would become the caged animal going wild if not.
The parks in Paris are truly a privilege. We are glad and thankful to be able to share them.