Hey ho, friends! Sorry for the hiatus. I was out of internet access for a bit – that, and I’m lazy.
Nearly every vacation in France for kids is two weeks long. Some people would argue that it is way too much time to have off, but not me. I love it and so do my kids. Here’s the way I look at it: with a one week vacation, you either relax or travel, but you can’t do both happily. The two week school vacation in France is the perfect about of time for doing both: one week of lazing about and one week of seeing cool things. Pair that up with the very generous vacation schedule for working adults and you’ve got the makings of a very nice time.
The first week of vacation turned out to be the lazing about week except that we need to do something somewhat interesting before I was completely absorbed into a giant Lego abyss. A Lego abyss which involves non-stop talk about Lego, many audio sound effects to go along with the Lego action and chatter about which character is stronger and faster, etc. Try as I might not to get sucked in, I have two boys constantly trying to draw me in to the vortex by asking me questions like, “Mum, who is your favorite Ninjago spinner?” and “In your opinion, who is cooler, Coal or Kai?” Although I strongly advocate having an opion in life, these conversations are way out of my league. Way.
So I finally told the boys that we were going to take a trip to Paris to get out of our (my) Lego rut and learn something new. I was trying hard to convince them the Musee D’Orsay would be a great museum to see, especially since they just completed a major renovation. No dice. Then I was on to the Paris Science Museum, but I heard from a friend that school vacations are hell in that place. Finally we reached an agreement that we would go to the Natural HIstory Museum in Paris based on the fact that there would be dinosaurs present – my friend told me so.
When we arrived at the Museum, we immediately saw some giant bones hanging from the ceiling. At that point I exclaimed,”Hey, look at the dinosaur bones!” Unfortunately, my kids are the direct descents of their smartypants father, to which they replied, “Those aren’t dinosaur bones, those are WHALE bones.” Hmm. After further inspection, I could see that they were right, which I might have realized sooner if I had channeled my inner Cape Codder, since I have visited nearly every whaling museum in the New England area as a school kid.
Despite Owen’s fear of spiders, we decided to take a hiatus from the dinosaur search to see the special spider exhibit. His fear of spiders is a recent addition to the “Scared of Our House” syndrome that had plagued Eamon since we moved in here. The house is big and old and a little bit creaky and Eamon refuses to go to a different floor without another person present. Owen, on the other hand, was fine in our house until he saw what I can safely say is the biggest spider I have ever seen sitting on our basement floor. Since that time, he had referred to the spider as “Dracula” and now refuses to set foot in the basement except under duress.
The spider exhibit started out pretty simply with diagrams of spiders and their webs and progressed in complexity to the finale which was made up of real spiders and an exhibit showing scenes of spiders in the movies. To be clear, the movies featuring spiders were not scenes from Charlotte’s Web, but rather, the exhibition was called “Spiders From Horror Movies.” There was a slight hesitation on my part. Does a responsible mother let her kids see an exhibit entitled, “Spiders from Horror Movies?” The obvious answer is no, but I mean, how bad could it really be? It is, after all, a museum for kids.
Here are just some of the movies we saw clips from (there were others that I think I’ve blocked out):
- Arachnophobia (1990)
- The Lord of the Rings – Return of the King (2003)
- Tarantula (1955)
- Kingdom of the Spiders (1977)
- Raider’s of the Lost Ark (1981)
The spider scenes ranged from seeing a giant tarantula loom over a city and devour a horse (think Godzilla) , to seeing a giant infestation of spiders take over a town. But the scene that really took the cake was the scene from a movie I can’t remember where a guy opens his mouth and a load of spiders come out and starts to crawl up his head and down his chest. I nearly had to scrape Owen of the floor after that one. Another parenting milestone surpassed – scare your kid’s shitless so that they never go down your basement ever again.
After that movie experience, we were rushing toward the exit of the spider exhibit, when a photo caught my eye. It was a picture that looked just like the spider in our basement and I read the name of the spider out loud, “French House Spider.” When Owen found out that Dracula was not some rare breed of spider that happened to find a way into our basement, but rather a typical type of spider that could be found anywhere – like even in his bed – he nearly lost his mind.
At that point, we had to put the spider exhibit behind us, so we resumed our quest for the dinosaurs. After a full day of seeing nearly every species of mammal and insect, we found no dinosaurs. Not a single one. Another promise broken to my kids. It seems like they should be used to it by now, doesn’t it?
As it turns out, there was a big dinosaur exhibit at this museum but it closed six months ago. Go figure. I did, however, track down some other dinosaurs in Paris on the web after we got home that we’re going to make another trip to see – once they recover from the spider exhibit.
Here is a photo of the stampede in the middle of the museum. I think they’re all running away from the spider exhibit.