We just returned home from Paris and London. With a seven-year-old child in tow.
That takes courage, you know, especially if you have a lively, spirited kiddo like our dear boy.
Dealing with airplanes, airports, and jet lag en famille is not for the faint of heart. This, coupled with the expense, is why parents usually drop the kids off with relatives before heading abroad.
But we don’t. We never have. We never will.
Well, for starters we made a commitment early on in our married life to put travel in the center of shared experience of family life. And I am not talking about convenient, logically arranged and highly scheduled tours. When we travel, especially abroad, we typically only have the hotel and transportation lined up, cobbling together tickets and free hotel rooms using frequent flyer and point schemes. Everything else is left up to what suits our mood on any given day of the trip.
For our time away, we become true wanderers, getting lost on purpose, together.
Our pace may be sluggish in the morning and brisk by night fall. Or vice versa. We walk much of the time, embracing the sense of place best acquired on foot. Museums and monuments are incorporated into our schedule as are bookstores, playgrounds, street markets, toy departments, gardens, and other settings of everyday life. We try to be as inconspicuous as possible, practicing enough of the local language prior to our trip to be reasonably fluent in basic transactions. We seek to respectfully, discretely blend in to the surroundings and in turn to learn what it must be like to live in such a place, to know its seasonal rhythms and moods.
We do all of this in pursuit of transcendent moments such as the ones represented by the photos in this post. Our reward–rainbows over Paris–came at the end of a long walk. (Alas, the double second rainbow doesn’t come out well on the images, but it was definitely there.)
On this particular afternoon, we had delayed going out and then found ourselves enthralled with the sweet charms of Paris in the rain. Clothes can be set out to dry but the chance to be a family, together, enjoying the heat of adventure is only available for a limited time. Children grow up, after all, and set off on their own adventures.
For our willingness to push through that day–and keep walking while other travelers ducked into fancy restaurants and hotel rooms, we were treated to two rainbows over the Île de la Cité while golden sunlight showering down on the near-deserted park at the tip of the island.
Our son stood on a bridge and pointed at where the end of one rainbow blended into a distant rooftop.
“It’s there! It’s there! The end of the rainbow is over there!”
“No,” I thought as I watched him beaming at the sight. “It’s right here.”