Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Are Your Kids Spoiled? "Oui, Oui" - A Weekend in Quebec

As parents, one of the things we don’t want to do is spoil our kids. It’s a general goal.

This summer, we have failed miserably.

I’ve had a few people come up to me recently – just a few – and ask why I haven’t written much lately. Well for one, I’ve been busy working and sleeping. Which is what I do most days: Go to work, get home to eat dinner, then fall asleep when the kids go to bed.
But the other reason I haven’t posted much is we’ve been quite busy on weekends doing blog-worthy things, while spoiling our kids rotten. Not with material items, mind you, but with rich and special summer experiences.

I actually had a kid say to me one recent Saturday, “Do we have to go to the beach again? I just want to stay home.”
“Tough noogies,” was my reply. “You’re going to the beach and you’re going to have fun until you’re whistling Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah out your …”  

I had to suppress my inner Clark Griswald not to use the full quote (That link is NSFW).
Since school let out in late June, we’ve spent a week in Hilton Head, a few days around Granny’s pool, and just about every weekend sprawled along the beach on Lake Ontario, with jaunts to Sackets Harbor and Clayton thrown in. We’ve seen countless sunsets, loads of stars, a few shooting stars, and one notable sunrise. We’ve gone swimming, sailing, kayaking, and hiking. And we’ve eaten pretty well, too.   

I’ve also been reluctant to write about our adventures due to that strange feeling you can get when reading about other people’s fun times. You know. That feeling where you’re happy for them, you really are, but you also kind of wish you could be there, and then you start to regret your own life choices. It’s the opposite of schadenfreude, the German word for taking joy from the pain of others. This is more like finding pain in other people's joy. I call it vacationschaden.
And while it’s prevented me from writing, it hasn’t stopped us from spoiling the kids.

The climax of spoilage came this weekend when we took a short weekend trip to Canada.

I can hear the questions: Going to Canada doesn’t sound like spoiling? Does it, eh?
It wasn’t just Canada, it was French-speaking Canada. And it wasn’t just French-speaking Canada, it was the world-renowned Quebec resort town of Mont Tremblant.

Pedestrian village in Mont Tremblant
won’t bore you with the history of the place, except to say that some wealthy investors spent billions some time ago to turn the top skiing destinations on the east coast into a year-round vacation spot for wealthy Canadians – and for American families hoping to take advantage of the exchange rate but not factoring in the provincial tax.  
I will bore you, however, with the history of how our family found ourselves there, because this is quintessential to the theme of spoiling.

It started, simply enough, when my 8-year-old curious and precocious daughter said in the presence of her grandmother, “I want to go somewhere they speak French.”

And the planning began. (My parents were going with us, so the planning was more complex than usual. If you get that joke, you’re likely family).
First, it was determined that what we all really wanted to do was go to Quebec City. But that’s too far away for a weekend – even a long weekend – and I didn’t want to take the time from work.

Then we thought about Montreal, which I’ve been to a ton thanks to a few years just south of there in Plattsburgh. That’s too much like another big city, and everyone there speaks English anyway.  
A bit stumped, I asked my Canadian dad-blogger friends for suggestions. Yes, I have Canadian dad-blogger friends, including one aptly known as the Canadian Dad. And they suggested Mont Tremblant.  

We set out on Friday, arriving midday in the beautiful village of Mont Tremblant. Actually, if you go, know that there are three villages around the mountain that all have some claim on the name: centre-ville, le village and the pedestrian village. I did research enough to know we wanted to be in the pedestrian village, which was designed to look like the streets of Quebec City.
I could describe all the fun we had, but I thought I’d just show some pictures.  So, despite the likelihood of causing mass vacationschaden, here goes:



In our short weekend away, the kids went rock-wall climbing, hiking, swimming, up a mountain, down a mountain, and rode a luge -- wheels not sleds.  All this while surrounded by French speaking people.

My kids got a real kick out their proximity to a place where they speak another language. Their favorite part was saying “Oui, Oui.” Especially in double-entendre context.

Concert in the square at Mont Tremblant

“Do you have to go to the bathroom?”

“Oui, oui.”
To top it off, we also happened to be in town for a big, free concert in the middle of the village by a woman who is, like, the Celine Dion of Quebec. (That was the bad joke I said repeatedly, because I’m a dad). But this singer-songwriter is one of the stars of Quebec's version of The Voice, “La Voix” for you French speakers. Her name: Ariane Moffatt. And my kids saw her in concert before she became popular in the United States, for the record.

Because they are spoiled.
And we have failed this summer on that front.

Here's other articles you may enjoy: Learning Lessons from a Little Boy, One Smiling Moment -- The Truth Behind an Okay Photo, and To the Lost Little Girl in DC: Watching You Find Your Mom Made My Day.