Why don’t Parisians like children? My son and daughter-in-law have done a lot of travelling with their two small children and because my grandchildren are very even tempered, it hasn’t posed any real problems. However, they soon discovered that travelling with young children in Paris was not going to be as easy. They discovered rather quickly that restaurants discourage parents from bringing their children since they don’t provide any high chairs. Fortunately, the weather wasn’t too cold so that they could take their food and eat outside.
Their lives were further complicated when they realized that most washrooms don’t have baby change tables. My daughter-in-law said that they can now say that their little guy Memphis was changed on the steps of the Louvre. And I can’t believe what happened to my four year grandson. He needed to go to the bathroom and they weren’t near any public place. They were forced to run into a restaurant and ask to use their toilet and they were refused. Jackson could wait no longer and peed his pants. I was so mad that I wished that he had pulled down his pants and had peed right on their floor!
Then when they were at the Musee d’Orsay, Memphis who is soon one year old, began to cry. Now, my son and daughter-in-law are phenomenal parents and when Memphis began to cry, I know they were doing everything they could to quiet him, but suddenly a museum “guard” walked toward Jesse, put his fingers to his lips, and then asked them to leave! “Thank you, I realize I am not trying hard enough, I need your extra pressure, and perhaps I can hand him to you and see what you can do.” No, my son said none of that – it was just a Grandma ranting. He quietly took Memphis out of the museum. I know that a screaming child whose molar teeth are trying to emerge can really disrupt the quiet ambience of an art gallery. I just think there could have been a little greater tolerance or perhaps just a smile and a look of understanding?
And yet, had Memphis not cried, my son and daughter-in-law may have left the Musee d’Orsay with a different opinion. It was one of the buildings that had clean baby-changing rooms and they even provided free strollers. Unfortunately, these two stressed parents because their baby was crying was shown no empathy and those two features just weren’t enough to offset that judging and critical look that they received. Of course, my son who has a quirky sense of humour is already enjoying relating his story of how he and Memphis were evicted from the Musee d’Orsay!
Later that day, they entered the Napoleon Column where they used their museum passes. However, when they had gotten quite far into the museum, a “guard” asked them if the children had tickets. Well, the children were free so why would they think they needed tickets? Jesse had to quickly return to the entrance to get two “free” tickets while Lisa waited with the children. The Parisians seem so rigid in their adherence to their rules rather than show any consideration for a young family.
I don’t need to be told that Paris is not completely opposed to children even though my son and daughter-in-law were surprised by how few children they saw. There are many lovely activities for them that kept my four year old son completely engaged. I can only hope that when our daughter and son-in-law come to Paris see us in October, Viola will have no teeth trying to come through since like my two grandsons, she is normally very happy. In the meantime, whenever I see parents travelling with a crying child, I intend to smile at them and if we speak the same language, give them a few words of encouragement. Travelling or not, I have always felt that when when a child cries in public, the parents would readily appreciate receiving just one moment of grace from a stranger.