Last Friday I texted my husband at work to suggest a weekend trip to Montreal to visit the old part of the city. The next morning we drove the quick hour north and ate sandwiches in the car. My husband had an amused expression and said, “Now she’s happy.” I skipped asking why he was speaking about me in the third person and asked if being excited about touring historic/crumbling architecture in an old French colony made me a secret snob. He said it was no secret. Well I guess that makes our children baby snobs because they were excited, too. The high that day was 30°F but the windchill made it feel more like how I imagine hell would feel if it actually froze over. We dressed in layers and warmed up in places like the Notre Dame Basilica. Here are my 5 take-aways from our time in New France:
1. Children do not respect cobblestone streets. No matter how many times you tell them there is an invisible line between where they can walk and where they will be “flattened like a pancake” (their words) they will not believe you. No matter how loudly you yell for them to stop, they will continue to attempt to run into the middle of the road. And then cry like you hate them for not letting them go flapjack on you.
2. I am totally jealous of my Catholic friends. I was more impressed by the confessional booths at the basilica than the Spa Sur L’eau floating spa on the old port of the Saint Lawrence. Sure it looked a little fun to wear a bikini outdoors in December and step into a steaming hot spa. But I realized how great it would be to essentially have a free therapist every week. Last time I had a therapist the going rate for paying someone to listen to me and not say much was like 80 bucks a pop.
3. I admitted to myself I really am a bit of a snob because I could not accept going to a chain coffee shop on Saint Paul, the oldest street in Montreal. We did use the restroom in one but then walked across the street to Le Petit Café in a European-styled hotel. The girls had chocolat chaud while discussing the wall mural. Bonus: with tummies full of warm milk, they slept like rocks on the drive back home, even through the border crossing.
4. Impromptu, inexpensive, low-key family days are some of the best days. Yes, I would love to bring my daughters on a European vacation. But a day among francophones was fun enough and we got to sleep in our own beds that night. Besides, my husband and I decided our four-year-old is absolutely not ready for world travel. We decided this when she was wailing with her tiny mittened hands tucked into my armpits for warmth as we walked against the wind. But she does have a killer French accent. All day it was, “Bonjour! Comment ça va?”
5. I’m crazy about my kids. They were excited about spending an hour in a Gothic Revival church and dropping rocks into the Saint Lawrence from a bridge. They were disappointed we didn’t hit up any museums. I kinda don’t mind when my kids are whining, “Pleeeease mommy! Please can we go to a museum?” Next time, kids. And I had no doubts about walking into a swanky hotel lobby with them, furnished with mirrors and vases and fine upholstery. Mais oui, garçon, they can have their cocoa in ceramic mugs. My little ladies make me proud, cocoa mustaches and all.