As you know, M and I went to Ottawa this past weekend.
I started taking these annual trips with the kids to expose them to more French than can be found in Niagara.
Last year’s trip with Z was jam-packed. He wanted to do and see everything there was to see (except Parliament).
Easy to work that into four days.
As we were having dinner at the hotel on Friday evening, M and I talked about our plans for the weekend. I listed the few things I knew she specifically wanted to do and then asked her what else she wanted to do.
“Mama, I want to make a friend in Montreal. That little girl you showed me a picture of after Z got stung in the eye by a bee. Can we make friends with her while we’re here?”
Now, I had had conversations with Z about making friends with TWP several weeks back, and he had started sending him messages on Facebook. I had also shown M the pictures of LEP (she doesn’t have a new name yet, does she?) and TWP when they each got attacked by a bug, but I hadn’t talked about going to Montreal while we were in Ottawa. I didn’t think it was feasible, given the time it takes to get there and that I didn’t have the first clue about where to go.
In true Le Clown style, he immediately passed the work off to The Ringmistress to figure out how to get us there. I’d have done more of the investigation myself, but searching these things on one’s phone are not that simple.
While finishing up my evening with M, including a swim in the hotel pool and reading her to sleep, The Ringmistress and I continued our e-mail exchange and M asked me a few times if I’d figured out how to get to Montreal yet. While M slept, we sorted the rest of the details and I told them that, if M still wanted to go in the morning (you know how fickle four-year-olds can be, I’m sure), then we’d be there.
The first thing M asked me when she woke up was if I’d figured out how to get to Montreal.
I assured her that I had and that we had to get a move on if we were going to get there.
Unfortunately, when I arrived at the bus station to purchase tickets, the price that The Ringmistress and I had e-mailed about the night before was no longer available, but the clerk was kind enough to give me the current on-line price, even though I was purchasing at the window.
Anyway, we had a lovely bus ride to Montreal. M went above and beyond in demonstrating what a trooper she is (I wasn’t sure she was going to do well with all the sitting on trains, buses, etc. during our trip).
M may have been just a little excited to go to Montreal. It’s the first time she’s gotten to do anything of significance before Z.
She slept for half the ride there, while I pretended to sleep. I tried really hard to fall asleep, and I normally have no difficulty sleeping in public places, but I couldn’t relax enough on any of my trips with M to fall asleep.
I blogged about our trip on my phone as we travelled.
When we arrived at the bus station, M spied an enormous vending machine and asked to get a toy each for herself and Z. I, of course, agreed.
I was surprisingly comfortable with meeting Le Clown and The Ringmistress and with Le Clown and TWP meeting us at the bus station to pick us up. (I’m not a real “joiner,” so I do tend to get a little nervous when meeting new people.)
Meeting Le Clown and TWP was easy. I mean it felt easy.
We walked to the car, while Le Clown told us various things about where we were. Then, we got in the car and took a bit of a tour, while M and then TWP and then I tried to open the plastic ball that M’s toy came in.
TWP made M feel comfortable right away, as he treated her much like Z does (when Z is behaving).
M didn’t think that Le Clown’s car was going to make it up the mountain in Montreal, but it did. Oddly (or maybe not, because it’s Le Clown we’re talking about), the first place that Le Clown stopped was the cemetery. Because, you know, when you visit a new place, the first thing you want to see is definitely the cemetery. Fortunately, TWP convinced him to turn around and stop at a place where there was an incredible view of the city.
On we went to head back to Le Clown and The Ringmistress’ apartment.
It was here that The Ringmistress greeted me as no one else has before with, “Oh, I’m naked, I’ll be right out as she headed (I presume) from the shower into her bedroom.
Le Clown showed M his frogs before she went off into TWP’s room so that TWP could help her “just like Z would have” to open the plastic ball her toy came in.
We chatted for a bit, Le Clown took a picture of me with his breastfed Sock Monkey. I am not one of Sock Monkey’s wet nurses, so there are no pictures of me breastfeeding Sock Monkey.
Shortly thereafter, we left to walk up the road to the park where TWP was having his birthday party and proceeded to decorate the Party Tree. The Ringmistress suggested that M help decorate the Party Tree, which was great for M. It gave her something nice and quiet to do, while she got used to the new place and people.
We played with the kids and also sat and talked casually with the people at TWP’s party. The Ringmistress may or may not have made a special meal just for me (I wouldn’t be surprised if she had, but I also think that Le Clown might just be giving me the gears about being vegan), and it was yummy.
While at the park, Le Clown walked around in clothes that were much to freakin’ warm for the weather, armed with a camera and Sock Monkey. As a parent who takes stock of all the adults who are present at a park and tries to match them to their kids, I can only imagine that this may have been an unsettling sight.
When the Party Tree was finished, M booby-trapped with with a balloon and then Le Clown took a picture of The Ringmistress and me. The blue balloon attacked me, so I chose it to hide behind, while M giggled in the background.
I’m not gonna lie. It was weird.
As the afternoon (unfortunately) came to a close, we took the kids over to the best splash pad M has ever seen. She and Poppy played in the water and cooled off before heading over to the playground. The Ringmistress and I had a chance to talk a little bit by ourselves without Le Clown carrying on about breastfeeding Sock Monkey (honestly, that man and his Sock Monkey…).
M was also thrilled with the playground and not as thrilled when I told her that we had to leave soon, as Le Clown was going to drive us back to the bus station.
Fortunately, Le Clown was able to get us onto an earlier bus back to Montreal, but we first had to be frisked at security (no pictures of that), as spending time with him is (obviously) of concern to the fine folks at the bus station. It probably didn’t help that I left Le Clown in charge of my backpack and phone while M and I made one last washroom trip before boarding the bus.
Then, he sent us home with a measly “Montreal, Canada” mug and a toy “Montreal” school bus.
Anyway, as we got into line to be frisked, Le Clown noted that we didn’t have a picture of him and I together, so M did the honours and took this lovely shot. We could have made her shoot the picture while we stood, but then I would have looked like I had several more chins, or you’d be seeing shots of us from the waist down so, instead, we squatted on the floor in front of her, while others stood waiting to get into the line to be frisked.
And it was.
It was a great idea.
I had a great time with The Ringmistress and Le Clown (that’s right, Le Clown, your name is second), and it was a really good day for M.
She got to just play and have fun, while also hearing most people around her speak French. The Ringmistress and Le Clown spoke some French to her and she answered them. Sometimes speaking, sometimes just nodding (The Ringmistress was especially smart and went directly to yes and no questions for M).
On Sunday, M wanted to go back to Montreal, and I’d have done it in a heartbeat, if it had been in the budget cards.
Honestly, The Ringmistress, Le Clown, TWP, LEP and their friends are the nicest people you’ll find in Montreal.