She came! She came! The I’ll-save-you-from-Disneyland Guardian Angel visited us during the night and sprinkled her anti-corporate-fake-sterilized magic stardust on our son and when he woke up this morning, he plopped into bed next to me and announced, “I’ve made my decision” and then left a suitably dramatic pause. We both knew what he was talking about. I held my breath, literally. “I’ve decided not to go to Disneyland and to get a costume and do our film on the top of Notre Dame instead”. I said, “No, really, it’s OK, we’ll go to Disneyland, Edward”. He looked a bit pained. I said, “Are you sure you’re OK about not going?” then left a whisker of a pause before changing tack,“Wow! I think we could get really great costume here” and he smiled happily and said, “Yeah”.
We nipped into the Louvre shop on the way to the costume shop and I bought MORE educational DVDs! It was a bit disappointing because they had a good range of educational DVDs for kids in French but not in English. The ones I got were all for adults, which is fine but ones specifically targeted at kids would have been ideal.
Then we found a couple of great costumes and some super wooden swords in a nearby costume shop, much to my amazement. I thought we’d have to spend half the day hunting down Paris’s toy shops (the largest of which we found is closed at the moment which made the chance of finding that great costume even more daunting). But the costume Guardian Angel had also visited us! The only glitch was at lunchtime when the kids had a bit of a culture-break and put on a ‘Toy Story 3’ DVD which of course opens with the Disney credits – Sleeping Beauty’s castle framed by fireworks and Edward cried out, “Oh no! We’re not going to Disneyland!” You could hear the anguish in his voice. But I said, “Do you love your costumes?” And he smiled and he said, “Yes” and I said, “And they’re coming home with us. Disneyland would have just been for a day”. And I pointed out that since it’s been threatening rain all day here it could well be raining in Disneyland which wouldn’t have been much fun, and he sat back and enjoyed the movie. I don’t want him to choose material ‘things’ over great experiences ordinarily but I hope he’s got the message that Disneyland was not going to be a great experience.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t get onto the roof of Notre Dame, the queue was 3 hours long and it was raining! When you look at the length of the queue, you can work it out because they let 20 people in every 10 minutes. What a disappointment. So, we did a bit of ‘filming’ in front of the cathedral with surprisingly few obvious gawkers – Edward proudly dressed in his new Muskateer outfit, brandishing the terrifying new wooden sword. But we will try, at the 11th hour, to get to the top tomorrow morning, when it opens, in the hour before we leave Paris. I gather the queue is sometimes not as bad. Fingers crossed. Will the filming-on-the-top-of-Notre-Dame Guardian Angel visit us tonight, having been tipped off by her holding-onto-our-values-in-the-face-of-the –commercial-onslaught-of-Disneyland pal that we’re an OK family in need of a last bit of Paris luck?
What am I going to miss most about Paris? Ah, so much. The beautiful Eiffel Tower suddenly popping up as you turn the corner here and there. The relaxing Seine meandering along the centre of the city, spanned by stunning bridge after stunning bridge. The best coffee I have ever drunk, that never makes me feel anxious, how odd is that! The best croissants and éclairs of course and delicious artisanal walnut bread bought not even from a boulangerie but the little supermarket around the corner! I am going to miss Paris’ mouthwatering take on Italian gelato, especially the Tiramisu and Amaretto flavours! I am going to mourn the decades and decades of history and culture that seep into your bones the first day you arrive. I am going to feel sorry when I swop hearing the beautiful French language all around me for the much harsher Dutch. I’m going to miss the lush green parks and waterfalls that seem to be ubiquitous and the lounging, lolling bodies everywhere that can’t help but make you feel relaxed too as you amble past them. I am going to miss the seemingly effortless mix of ancient and modern that you see everywhere. I am going to miss the opportunity to see world class everything, any time you want, even if in reality I couldn’t take that opportunity very often! I will miss the new friends I made. I will miss their kindness and hospitality. I will miss seeing the negative stereotypes about Parisians being undone, as far as I’m concerned, every day I’ve been here. I will miss having an organized schedule and having it turned on its head and not minding a bit because everything is so magical here, it hardly matters how you spend your time, as long as it’s spent here. I will miss so much more I can hardly bear to think about it as I write this.
But most of all, I will miss seeing Paris through my children’s eyes. I will miss their Ooohs and Aaahs. I will miss their, ‘Look! Look, Mummy! It’s …………’ BUT the great thing is this isn’t the end of our holiday. We’re off by train to the Netherlands tomorrow, for some much needed R&R for my husband, some therapeutic fresh air and forest for my children and hopefully, from time to time, a sneaky bit of culture for Mummy! High-speed train excitement for small children, here we come!
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IF YOU’RE NEW TO HOMESCHOOLINGMIDDLEEAST, welcome! I highly recommend that you start reading from ‘Day 1’. The fastest way to access this is to look for ‘Archives’ on the right hand side of the home page, click on ‘February 2012’ and scroll down to the bottom of the page that opens. If you want a quick first visit, you could type a term e.g. ‘socialization’ or ‘university’, into the ‘Search’ box or of course you could just read my latest posts without doing anything!
Why I recommend starting at Day 1 is because this is an adventure into homeschooling that is not yet 3 months old and the journey has been a rollercoaster – philosophically and emotionally, catalogued daily for the first couple of months. For you to get the full intellectual and dramatic impact, it’s best to start at the beginning. You might be contemplating home educating and wonder what those early nail-biting days feel like or you might enjoy reading somebody else’s take on an experience you share with me, or you might be more generally interested in my thoughts and feelings on education and parenting. Whatever the reason you’re reading, I’m really humbled that you’re taking your valuable time to do so and I really hope I can be some kind of hope or inspiration for you. Thank you!