Sunday, July 18, 2010
We Crazy Fun
When I met Tom in 1997, one of the things I liked about him was his love of travel. He had spent nine months backpacking through Africa at age 30, lived in Rome for a year with the ND School of Architecture program and traveled through Europe. I had been to Tahiti, Sweden and New York with my friend Tina, and spent two months in Ecuador doing research after college graduation. We both liked the adventure of traveling. Another thing we had in common was we both loved our family. So, inevitably, travel meant bringing the kids. All of them. All the time.
The first trip was Paris, with Cadence and Quinlan, ages 11 and 7. I was newly pregnant with Kieran, so she was there too, without any luggage or trouble. It all went swimmingly. The girls loved the stories Tom told them about the French Revolution, the Impressionists, and Joan of Arc. He made up a character, "The Man in the White Beret" (Le Homme avec Beret Blanc), who would show up in stories about famous Parisians, like when Le Homme Avec Beret Blanc surprised Vincent Van Gogh and caused him to accidentally cut off his ear. It was magical. The kids ate soup and pizza, bread and ice cream. What more did they need?
So when Kieran came along in 2000, we naturally took her along on our next big trip with the big girls to Hawaii, and that same year, Italy. Kieran was two. I remember Tom saying over and over again to Kieran in Italy "If you had behaved this badly in Hawaii, you wouldn't be here now!". It was our first international family trip with a toddler. Try changing a poopy diaper in front of the Colloseum on a sleeping child without laying her down. The fountains, sunflowers, farm animals and general vibe of Italy saved us. Kieran ate nothing but butter, parmasean cheese, bread and milk.
The next year, we remodeled the house, had Aidan and gave him a year to mature before his big European debut. It would be Italy again. This time we had two teenagers, Cadence, 15, Quinlan, a mature 12, Kieran, 4, and Aidan 1. This trip started with our international flight where Aidan stood up in his little wall-hanging bassinet, placed both hands firmly on the metal frame of the video screen above him and gingerly ripped it off the wall, where it flew back and bonked me on the head. Surely a sign of the fun to come.
Most families would stress about taking this crew to a nice restaurant here, in the US, in their home town. We are so crazy, we took them to restaurants all over Italy. I have mostly blocked out the memories that were too hard to bear. A good one was when Kieran, too tired to take another step, simply lay herself down on the steps of a Venician bridge, hoping someone would feel pity and carry her across Venice.
As the years have passed, we have taken our kids to Ireland, Tahiti, New York City, Fiji, Paris and Amsterdam. In a week, we are jetting off to Italy again. This time we are taking Aidan, 7, Kieran, 10, Quinlan, 18, Cadence, 21, Matt, 22, and Spencer, 18, Cadence and Quinlan's boyfriends. This one seems like a guaranteed magically perfect experience. No toddlers, no diapers, only fun, somewhat whiney kids, beautiful adult daughters with their best friends, and my fellow adventure-lover, Tom. Yeah, we crazy FUN!
The two pictures above are from Ireland, the two below are Fiji
New York, minus Cadence, plus Faith
Paris, sunset under the Arch D'Triumph