July 28, 2010

Little American Boy

My five year old is adorable. He has golden blond hair, sweet brown eyes and the ability to endear himself to most anyone who meets him. This is quite fortuitous as he is very precocious and given to some outrageous "antics". I have always heard that the French were not nice to children, that they did not particularly wish to see or hear them. Traveling with three children who are very American, i.e., loud and opinionated, I have yet to meet a person in France who was not only lovely to them but also quite engaging.

Sunday in Place des Vosges is everything a Paris romantic dreams of. Two young women setting up music stands and breaking out into arias worthy of La Scala. Another corner and there sits a violin player and cellist. The music swirling out into the courtyard is magical. Artist after artist selling paintings while displaying their published works in international artist magazines. These are not weekend watercolorists but full time successful painters. One of these artists had the most alluring paintings of Paris I had seen so far. His color, perspective and the flow of his lines jumped off the canvas.

As we chatted about his work I noticed that he was quite taken with my children, particularly my youngest. "Little American Boy' he kept chuckling, "Little American Boy". I would not be surprised to see a painting of my little American boy at Place des Vosges one Sunday soon.

As we wandered through the Marais looking for food and adventure we settled into a tiny cafe run by a woman and her husband. She took the orders, gave suggestions, sprayed hot children with cool Evian water and washed the dishes behind the sink. It was sweltering but that did not stop the steaming food from flying out of the kitchen prepared by her husband. While we read the chalk board menu she emerged from the kitchen with a wet cloth and wiped out two items, smiling and shrugging, "sold out". Evidently the only english words she knew.

My two older children (13 and 9) wanted something cold to eat but the little guy wanted spaghetti. As our ubiquitous helper served up the plates she spilled a tiny drop of hot tomato sauce on the little guy's shoulder. "Ohhhhhhh, no no no !!!" she put down the plate, wiped off his shoulder and gave him a two genuine kisses on his soft little cheek. I can't say I blame her, he is irresistable, but it was so sweet and sincere and motherly. Maybe times have changed here but I don't think so. There will always be people who don't want to see or hear children, but there will always be a lot more who do and do it with love and care. 



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