I’m going to spare you the two-paragraph-long backpedal, where I assure you that I love my child. Of course I love my child. The first two nights in Paris, I cried myself to sleep. (True story.) But I got over it. Mostly because I realized quickly that Paris would have sucked if my kid had been with us.
This truth became glaringly obvious on our most recent adventure, to Vancouver B.C. Vancouver was Bini’s consolation prize for not coming to Paris with us. “You and Mommy go on trips sometimes and you don’t take me,” he complained to Steve.
Yes, my parents come up twice a year from California and shoo us off so Steve and I can reconnect and they can undo years of careful parenting and discipline. Usually, we do short jaunts: to Vancouver, Orcas Island, Leavenworth, and once, Las Vegas. Paris was obviously in a different class. It was for our 10th wedding anniversary. We’d been talking about it for years.
“Bini, we’re going to be going to lots of museums, and doing lots of walking,” Steve told him.
“Mommy’s going to be doing lots of shopping, too.” I added.
“I love all those things,” Bini protested. “I love walking and museums and shopping.”
None of this is true. Bini loves, in this order: 1) Star Wars; 2) superheroes; 3) riding his bike; 4) watching shows on the iPad and 5) dancing to Michael Jackson. He will hike if I bribe him. Once, when I was shopping for handbags at Nordstrom, he said, loudly, “Mommy, you DO NOT NEED another purse!”
The kid wasn’t coming to Paris. So we told him that we’d take him to Vancouver, a place we’d long wanted to go as a family, when we got back. It worked out perfectly — his school had a teacher work day and it made for a nice long weekend. We found a Hampton Inn in Yaletown with a separate sleep area for the kid and the trip was a go.
We set off around 1:00 and the drive went smoothly — until the border. Bini could not fathom why we were waiting in such a long car line. “Why aren’t we moving?” he asked every 3 minutes.
Finding a restaurant in Vancouver was a markedly different experience than Paris, too. “Hey, that place looks good,” said Steve, gesturing to a white tablecloth joint. “Except there’s no kids in there,” I pointed out. We ended up at a cavernous brew pub with dozens of shrieking children and lots of beer. Rather than talking quietly in an intimate bistro, Steve and I shouted “What?” to each other and Bini colored a pilgrim drawing.
Today, though, was when any lingering guilt we had about going to Paris sans kid completely evaporated. Today, we took the kid to the Vancouver Aquarium. Bini loves aquariums. And this one is the largest in Canada, with 50,000 animals.
About 30 minutes into our visit, Bini proclaimed that he was bored.
“Look at the jellies!” I said, enthusiastically. The Vancouver Aquarium has a new jellyfish exhibit, featuring 15 different species from all over the world. There’s big ones, tiny ones, orange ones. I could have looked at jellies all day. And the reefs! I had no idea that cold-water reefs could be so colorful. And did I mention the belugas? I was sitting, watching the belugas glide and turn, when Bini said, “Are we actually going to just sit here and watch belugas all day?”
We got on the bus and headed back to downtown. “I can’t walk anymore,” Bini whined, over and over. “My legs hurt.”
“Well, it’s a good thing you didn’t go to Paris with us, Bini,” Steve said. “This is all we did.”
That didn’t help. He harrumphed and grumped along, dragging his feet. We fed him, which helped a bit, but then decided to walk the 10 or so blocks back to the hotel.
“My legs are falling off,” Bini said, approximately every 45 seconds.
Now, we’re in the hotel and the flat-screen plasma in Bini’s sitting area does not have anything to interest him. He wants my laptop. Which I’m using. In Paris, I used my computer freely to write long, thought-out posts about the Roma in France. I read books. I talked to my husband, about lots of things. We strolled our neighborhood, and spent hours in museums. We slept, uninterrupted. We made breakfast for ourselves and were responsible solely for our own bathing and grooming. We drank wine at 4:00.
Tonight, we’re taking our son to a French bistro with some friends. The irony is not lost on us. I can only hope that he will eat beef short ribs and that the wine pours will be generous.