In a couple of weeks my middle-child turns the big 0-2. Which means we won't be exhausted parents to two under two for much longer at all. Which is why I'm in Montreal eating the leftover fruit from a pitcher of sangria and squeaky-fresh cheese curds as a bedtime snack. See, it seemed quite urgent to me to take advantage of the fact that airlines don't charge babies for plane trips until they are two. With two under two, how could we not squeeze in a family vacation somewhere on an airplane? We only have to purchase three seats for five people! The two under two are free! FREE! Aren't airlines basically paying us to fly?
Sure sounds like it, Betsy, but what's the catch?
Well, five people in three airline seats is definitely the catch.
The other catch is we weren't all allowed to sit together on the flight because there wouldn't be enough oxygen masks if we five all sardined into a row of three. So the airline planted me and my husband across the aisle from each other with a baby on each of our laps. Our four-year old got a window seat. And some poor schmo reserved himself the seat between all of us! He was a kind, humungous, and terror-stricken dude before a stewardess had pity on him and moved him to another seat. So we ended up getting 5 seats after all. It really helped with the breastfeeding and the shrieking and the sprawling out for naps not to have a gigantic, hairy, stranger spilling over into my seat.
We didn't have quite enough Airmiles to get us to Spain so we're squatting at my sister's place in Montreal. It's good to see her. It's good to know where she lives, exactly. She's been here for five years and I can't believe I haven't visited yet. But like I told her, there's five of us and we are total chaos and we wouldn't inflict us on an enemy, never mind a loved one.
"What?" she asked. "Don't be ridiculous. We'd love to have you."
So here we are. She purchased a kilogram of gummy bears from the bulk store she likes to shop at for the children. She and her boyfriend don't have kids. To say we're livening up the place is some kind of understatement.
Ah Montreal! You beautiful city! Wine is available at every corner store. And young men are bizarrely gallant -- they say things like, "Regardez la belle enfant! Elle est si mignon!" and also, "Puis je vous-aidez, Madame?" That would pretty much make them a different species than the young men back home.
I haven't been here since I was a Mademoiselle. Now I am a Madame. I loved it then and I love it now.
What a romantic city.
Oh, Montreal! Your legendary bagels and your mad traffic! Your bicyclettes and your beery terrasses! You, Montreal, are a glass all the way full of French wine purchased at a depaneur.
Travelling with small children is a grand adventure. My hubby and I hardly ever turn to each other and ask, What the crapsnot were we thinking? Certainly no more than seven, eighteen, or at the very most sixty-two times a day.
I wouldn't call travelling with wee ones relaxing but I wouldn't call it off, either. It is what it is.
If you love to travel you'll love travelling with kids.
If you've gone all soft from working an office job and aren't used to the rigors of 24-7 childcare, you will be fast asleep before 9:00 p.m. like my husband is now.
And since you asked, or rather, since this wine-sopped fruit is going to my head, and also this glass of wine which I've poured myself since everybody is asleep, here's some advice to anyone travelling with small children:
Don't expect your children to act like people that aren't children just because they are on an airplane or out for brunch. And don't give a damn about anyone who expects them to behave just like little adults.
Don't expect to travel light. Just forget about it.
Bring Bendaroos. I'm serious. Do not underestimate the power of this weird (it's lengths of yarn dipped in wax) toy to captivate and enchant your children when you really really really need to captivate and enchant them.
Don't try to cram too much into a day. Just pick one thing to do each day and perhaps a second thing but don't set your heart on that second thing, because you won't get to it.
And for those travelling to Montreal with kids:
Do go to St. Viateur's for bagels. The legend is not overstated.
Definitely go to the Biodome one day and the Insectarium and the Botanical Gardens another day. The Botanical Gardens in Montreal are AMAZING. The high point of my trip was undoubtedly smooching with my still one-year old son in the Chinese gardens and then later smooching with my husband by the water lilies. C'est la vie en rose.
And another thing!
The leftover fruit from a pitcher of sangria is a great snack and when paired with a high-protein food such as cheddar curds will certainly make you very nice and sleepy.
Bon soir, mes belles! A bientot!
Love and kisses on both cheeks,