Kris à Genève

A Canadian living in Switzerland

Paris in May

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Next week we will depart on a month-long visit to Canada. In preparation, Eileen and I have tried to introduce Juniper to some of the experiences of a long flight. We have spent a couple of afternoons wandering around the airport: “Oh, doesn’t security look fun?!” We also found a quirky Thai café across the runway from the airport, with views of planes coming and going. Juniper has always enjoyed spotting airplanes in the sky, so this phase of the preparations was easy.

Watching planes at Cointrin

Watching planes at Cointrin

“Looks as if the 17h11 is leaving on time!”

We are also crafting a toddler management strategy for the flight itself. Our trump card is “Gru” (the movie “Despicable Me”), which effectively zombie-fies Juniper when she watches it.  At home, Juniper’s screen time is heavily regulated. But on the flight we intend to use Gru and the iPad gratuitously, along with snacks and treats. Juniper will live the toddler equivalent of an all-night bender!

To complete the “Gru” flight setup, we bought Juniper some child headphones. Unsurprisingly, she initially refused to have them on her head, which confronted us with a common toddler conundrum: how to explain to our stubborn two-year-old that the audio to her film could only be heard through those clunky-looking ear-hats that she won’t try? We adults take these linked concepts for granted. In the end we resorted to trickery: Eileen and I took turns pretending to have the time of our lives when wearing the headphones, until Juni wanted a turn.

On a long weekend in May, we brought the headphones on another of our pre-Canada preparations: a trip to Paris by TGV. The journey is approximately 3.5 hours long in either direction and we were keen, if a little anxious, to see how Juniper would respond to our clever plans. Boarding and exploring the train would be no problem, as she enjoys new surroundings, but eventually she would be tired and bored…

As planned, we relaxed moderation and allowed Juniper a buffet of raisins, bread and Gru. The return journey in particular demonstrated to Eileen and me that Juniper can behave better than we expect. As anticipated, she grew stir crazy and her activities became shorter and more frantic. But she kept it together with minimal whining and no tantrums. Eventually we plugged her in for 1.5 hours of Gru. Meanwhile, the train was ringing with the protests of the handful of other fed-up toddlers on board, who were testing whether continuous shrieking can stop the TGV.

Toddler management, phase 1

Toddler management, phase 1

Toddler management, phase 2

Toddler management, phase 2

Once arrived in Paris, Juniper was SUPERCHARGED! I think it was a combination of the new surroundings and that she had kicked her incessant winter cold: she felt great and was keen to explore. Whatever the source of her energy, she ran and babbled for three days straight, the most sustained rush of activity I have seen in her life.

Running near our apartment in Rue Quincampoix

Running near our apartment in Rue Quincampoix

Running through the queue barriers at the Centre Pompidou

Running through the queue barriers at the Centre Pompidou

Running at Place de la Bastille

Running at Place de la Bastille

Running in Square Jean XXIII, behind Notre Dame cathedral

Running in Square Jean XXIII, behind Notre Dame cathedral

As she raced around Paris, Juniper stopped every few minutes to point and exclaim “WOW!” The exclamations were doubly amusing because of her current need to confirm everything with all family members present: Juniper is chairwoman of our Committee of the Obvious. For example, when a truck drove past all three of us, Juniper exclaimed “WOW!”, her pointed finger quivering with excitement. She then calmly requested Eileen’s attention – “Maman?” When Eileen replied “yes?” Juni pointed to the truck in the distance, repeated her “WOW!”, complete with quivering finger, and then waited for Eileen to acknowledge. Next she turned calmly to me: “Papa?”

“Oui?”

“WOW!” The truck had disappeared from view, but Juni’s back was arched, cheeks were taught and finger was quivering.

“Oui, wow, Juni.”

“WOW!”

As you might expect, Paris’s landmarks were no more interesting to Juniper than its trucks or pigeons. As the following photos illustrate, the metro was her favourite experience: climbing up and down the stairs, exploring the grotty platforms, announcing the arrival of the trains and standing and sitting among the adults in the cars. She could have happily spent all three days underground!

“Train!”

Hangin'

“Fun platform, isn’t it, monsieur?”

Party in the metro!

“Vive la Métropolitaine!”

On Sunday we took a break from riding the metro to visit the Cité des Enfants, an excellent interactive exhibition at the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie. We had to lie about her birthday to gain entry, as the minimum age is two. Then Juniper displayed one of her consistent personality traits: she stood back to observe the different activities before engaging. Once at ease, she plunged in to the water cannons, wind tunnel, mazes, ball ramps and widgets, running and exclaiming throughout.

fun noun 1. enjoyment, amusement, or light-hearted pleasure. 2. transferring water from bucket to basin

fun
/fʌn/
noun
1. enjoyment, amusement, or light-hearted pleasure.
2. transferring water from bucket to basin.

Operating a water cannon

Operating a water cannon

Squirming through the forest

Squirming through the forest

On our way home, Juni napped in her stroller, tired enough that she slept through a loud music festival we stumbled upon in Parc de la Villette. The following photo shows her about to sleep through a descent into her beloved metro.

About to miss out on the metro

About to miss out on the metro

On Monday morning we were a little overambitious and raced to Place du Trocadéro to shoot portraits in front of the Eiffel Tower for the grandparents. Our train was at 11h or so, so we were only there for 20 minutes or so before racing back to the apartment to collect our bags. Juniper was upset to leave Trocadéro so quickly, until she discovered that meant hurrying back down to the metro!

Eileen and Juniper at Place du Trocadéro

Eileen and Juniper at Place du Trocadéro

Playing tag and ignoring the Eiffel Tower

Playing tag and ignoring the Eiffel Tower

We all enjoyed our weekend, Juniper most demonstrably. It was a bonus for Eileen and me to see Juniper in such high spirits in Paris, one of our favourite destinations. Juniper may only manage three-word sentences at the moment, but she clearly communicated that she would like to return to Paris!

Our train trip to Paris also reassured Eileen and I somewhat that we will survive our first long flight to Canada with Juniper. Her pupils may need a few days to recover from watching Gru for hours on end, but we hope to arrive in Canada with our sanity intact.

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Written by Kris Terauds

July 12, 2015 at 19:44

Posted in Uncategorized

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