Thursday, August 23, 2007

We'll Always Have Paris

When we told our friends we were spending two days in Paris en route to visit family in Ireland, everyone had the same response: With the kids? Aside from the obvious logistical question--What on earth else would we do with them? Stow them in a locker at the airport?--there was the question of pride. Maybe other people couldn't enjoy the world's most romantic city with two toddlers in tow, but we certainly could.

We were lucky to have use of a cousin's flat while in Paris, so after a somewhat successful overnight flight--both kids slept soundly on the floor of the bulkhead, though the airline broke our double stroller--we dropped off our things and headed right back out. It was cloudy and drizzling, but we braved the city's decidedly un-stroller-friendly Metro (hundreds of stairs and no elevators to speak of) and got off to stroll the Mouffetard, a quintessential Parisian street, cobblestoned and lined with patisseries, boulangeries, and every other kind of -erie you can think of.

We began to feel smug in our worldliness. Both kids fell asleep in the stroller (broken, though still manageable) and we found a tiny cafe where we could sit at a table outside and park the stroller alongside. We dined on rustic pate and duck confit and drank wine. It was perfect. Even when it started to rain.

We continued to stroll the city through the sprinkles of rain; the kids nibbling hunks of crusty baguette and eating grapes we bought from a street market.

But, like all idyllic fantasies, this one came crashing to an end. The stroller was far more broken than we had realized, and soon became impossible to steer. The kids had slept well on the plane, but only for 4 hours. And the small plastic cover we had borrowed from our hosts to keep the rain off the stroller proved to be no match for the torrential downpour that befell us just as we were about to stroll along the river and past Notre Dame.

Less than an hour after our wonderful lunch, we were huddled under a narrow overhang, desperately trying to stay dry (did I mention that we forgot to bring an umbrella?).

I was still trying to stay optimistic, until Declan began to cry.

"I want to go home!" he wailed. "Right now!"

Matty and I looked at each other. So did we.

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