Parenting Stories: Innocents Abroad, Part Deux

paris_tour_eiffel_bwOne week in and we are certainly making progress. Francie has slowly grown to appreciate France and has stopped spitting out all her food. She still refuses to take off her shoes in what she is certain is the world’s dustiest apartment, won’t sit on any of the kitchen chairs, and will most certainly not drink out of any of the glasses in the kitchen. So we’re buying a lot of bottled Badoit and making the best of it.

M was with us for a few days and then high-tailed it back to the U.S., so I am now flying solo, if you don’t count the five kids. As anyone who has traveled with small kids will tell you, there is this constant tension between doing all the things you want to do on vacation, and doing all the things you can do when accompanied by a pack of undersized, unreasonable beings who are prone to noisy, public fits of dissatisfaction. Usually, each time I plan an outing, it goes so incredibly badly (and it isn’t only the little kids who are melting down), that I inevitability wish I had skipped the whole enterprise and sat on the beach instead.

But this week was going to be different. On Monday I got everyone up and packed a bag for a short trip to Le Suquet, the old part of Cannes, which is about a 20 minute walk from the apartment. I was feeling confident, optimistic and ready. And then, despite the many, many, many precautions I had taken, I locked us all out of the apartment. I contemplated going ahead with the outing and dealing with the door when we got back, but ten minutes into the walk the kids were dripping with sweat and moaning (you really can’t take these Seattle kids anywhere warm, they just melt in direct sunlight) I took this a sign, headed to the park and called my friend S, who came over with a ladder that looked like it may have predated Napoleon.

It took several hours for us to get in, but the highlight of the day was when Bennett pushed a giant trash receptacle to the wall of the apartment, when my friend’s husband put a (less ancient) ladder on top of it, climbed up, and threw himself into the upstairs window.

Le Suquet would have to wait.

I was not deterred. The following day we all walked over to the ferry terminal and took a 15-minute ride to one of the Ile de Lerins, the small islands off Cannes. The ride was scenic and smooth, and on the ride back the ferry had a glass bottom! On Isle Saint Marguerite, we climbed into an old fort, and saw the prison where the Man in the Iron Mask is said to have been held, before he was sent to the Bastille where he died. We finished off our tour by spending some time on the beachfront.

At one point the kids were all frolicking in the water, and I had stripped Sidney down completely, so she could cool off. I looked at the kids and felt a moment of parental smugness … and smugness of any sort is something I rarely get to experience.

I looked away for a second, and when I looked back I saw that right there, on the glorious Mediterranean waterfront, in front of lots of French people, Sidney was taking a massive crap in the water. How was I to know that she was beginning a bout of explosive diarrhea that would last 6 hours and send me to the supermarket to buy what must be the world’s smallest disinfecting wipes? I rushed over to her and with my left hand I splashed water all over her tush as fast as I could, removing any of the incriminating evidence, while my right hand tried to bury the enormous pile of baby shit with sand … before any of these French people noticed. Looking back, I think I may have had to use my foot to diaper her.

I scooped her up, hissed at the kids, and we scurried onto that ferry like the guilty rats we are before anyone cottoned on.

I suppose I don’t need to tell you that today we sat on the beach.

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lea_geller1About Lea Geller
I’m a part-time lawyer, full time mother of five (ages 9 and down)… Currently in sunny Seattle. People ask how I manage it all, and I like to say that I do lots of things, but none of them very well. That’s my secret…. In a house of seven strong, distinct personalities, I always seem to have a story to tell. I suppose I got tired of people telling me, ‘You have to write this down!” So, I finally did, and blogging about our large mishaps, small triumphs, and other adventures, has helped hold my sanity together, albeit loosely. Check out the rest of Lea's family's adventures on her blog, This Is the Corner We Pee In.

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