An American Kid In London (or Paris or Rome or Dublin…)

Face it, it’s going to be a pricey vacation to take the family to Europe.  When we told family we were taking our then 3, 6, and 16 year olds on a European tour our family assumed our kids would never remember, we got looks that ranged from “bless their hearts” to “where did I put that straight jacket I always knew she’d need?”  And really, with so many theme parks and destinations in the United States, why take your kids so far from the welcoming hands of their grandparents when they’ve tested your last nerve?  Here’s why.

1 – They LOVE kids in many European cities.  Population is on the decline throughout Italy, for example, and they don’t see as many kids as you might think.  We knew we made the right choice to visit Rome for the first time with our then 9 year old Brighid when she sneezed in the taxi on the way to the hotel, and our cab driver pulled off the highway, got out of the car, and rummaged around in his trunk until he found tissues, a blanket, and vitamin C lozenges “per il bambina!”  Kids were welcomed throughout Europe, and they always got an amazing amount of attention.

Europe with Kids

2 – You might be from there.  If you’re like many Americans, your family may have emigrated to this country from a European country.  No matter how recently your family crossed the pond, your kids can’t get a real feel for where they come from unless you take them there.  Besides, they might enjoy meeting someone who looks like their grandfather.

Europe with Kids 2

3 – They will learn about other cultures.  Even taking your children to places where people speak the same language, there is much to learn by visiting Europe.  They will see things older than their own country, and learn that history goes back way further than we do.  Show them some of the pomp and circumstance they’d never find here – like the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace.  See the Pope. Visit museums.

Europe with Kids 7

4 – They will learn to appreciate other cultures.  We have the global community at our fingertips, thanks to the internet.  But to immerse your kids in the culture of another country gives them an understanding of people you can’t get playing Minecraft with a kid from the Bronx.  I am so grateful for the experiences my girls had in Europe, and love it when they remember how people did things differently from the way we do them.  I mostly love it when they want to have afternoon tea.  There is never really a bad time for scones.

Europe With kids 5

 

5- They might learn something about you.  Why are you in love with a simple lunch of fresh crusty bread, incredible cheese, and perfect grapes?  Why do you cry when you stand at the Pieta?  What’s the big deal about the Beatles?  Giving them the experiences that made you who you are might give them a glimpse they wouldn’t have normally had.

Europe with kids 3

6 – By the time you get home, they’ll know better than to wash their hands in a bidet.  ‘Nuff said.

Europe with kids 4

 

 

Insomnia – Not Just a Legitimate Concern

There are true insomniacs – people who genuinely and legitimately cannot sleep.  And then there are people like me.  I am on the go pretty much constantly during the day, so when I finally do lay down to go to sleep, unless I have the television on to keep my mind distracted, my mind wanders to a variety of things that make no sense.

The other night, I decided to turn the television off, and I hoped I might just drift off to sleep.  An hour later, I put the television back on, and was probably asleep within ten minutes.

What kept me up for that hour?  I knew you’d ask, so I jotted it down.

1 – Why on earth would people want to use a bidet?  Yes, gentle readers, bathroom habits kept me awake.  We don’t generally use a bidet here in the states, but there have been bidets in virtually every European hotel we’ve stayed in.  Seems to me that it’s hard to use them, you end up drippy, and even Charmin wouldn’t be an effective way to dry off.  And how sanitary are they?  Inquiring minds…

2 – Why can’t they tarp my street?  I live on a side street off of a main road, and while I applaud the Bellmawr Municipal services, if they can tarp over the field for the Eagles to play on, why don’t they tarp over my street, then untarp it when a snow storm is over?  Just have a team of people rolling up the tarp at the end of each blizzard, with a truck leading the way to gather up the snow.  Then I could pull out of my driveway onto nice, dry streets.  Fabulous idea.

3 – Who would read this stuff?  People are always telling me I should write a book.  About what?  What do you guys want me to jot down that you’d pay real money for to download on your Kindle?  Do you want me to write a Disney guidebook, to join the plethora of Disney guidebooks out there?  Or do you want me to write about the crazy crud that happens to me on a routine basis?  What is it that people want to read, really?  Stephen King I am not.

4 – Why can’t I make a latte like Starbucks?  It never tastes right to me.  And there has to be a way to make it at home just as good.  Without having my favorite barista Sandi move in with me.  But I do have a fold out sofa….

5 – How freakin’ lucky am I?  Married 20 years; three amazing daughters; wonderful parents and in-laws; and friends that I love.

And on that note, I put the TV back on before I sappily cried myself to sleep.