We were in the Musée Picasso in Paris and the Popple was repeatedly climbing a small set of stairs while shouting, “One, two, three, eight, nine, TEN!” I just stood there watching her, very conscious of the fact that a) I had yet to actually look at a Picasso painting and b) the other patrons probably didn’t want their Cubism served with a side of bad toddler counting.
“Do you want to go look at the art?” I asked her hopefully.
“ART! ART! ONE, TWO, THREE, TENNNN!” she yelled.
“How old is she?” an older woman asked me in English.
“Twenty months,” I said.
“My husband and I have three boys and we took them travelling with us everywhere,” she said. “You’ve got this.”
You’ve got this.
Sometimes that’s all you need as a parent – a helpful reminder that yes, you can do this. Sure, my child tried to climb on a Picasso statue earlier and spent most of the flight to Paris helpfully yelling, “AIRPLANE!” every time she saw the wing out the window, but I had handled it. And I’d handle whatever else she decided to throw at me on this trip.
I handled it when she wanted to spend the first half hour of our trip to Versailles walking back and forth on the entrance ramp. I handled it when she attempted to drink my bottle of sparkling water, spilled it all over her dress, cried because she was wet, and then cried because I tried to change her into dry clothes. I handled it when refused to sleep in her travel cot because she figured out that Adrian and I were sharing a room with her, and then spent most of the night rolling around our bed and saying, “I sleeping bed. Mommy sleeping bed.”
No, Mommy is not sleeping bed, because you keep kicking me in the face.
I used to worry so much about travelling with the Popple. How would she deal with the disruption to her routine? Would she nap? Had we packed enough toys? What was she going to eat? But now, after this most recent trip, I’ve realised that I don’t really need to give a shit about any of that. Her routine will be different, but she’ll adjust. She might nap…or she might not. Either way, she’ll be fine. A few books and some crayons can keep her busy for hours. She’ll mostly eat bread, probably.
It will be okay. Hell, it may even be fun.
So thank you, random lady in the Musée Picasso, for reminding me that travelling with a small child is the best kind of challenge.