January 2, 2008

Parisian Life

"Ah, oui! La vie ça passe comme ça!"

Ah, yes! Life passes (through) that way. She knows exactly what she wants to say, my little four-year-old niece, Elisa. She’s not the usual kid. She loves bugs, spiders, grasshoppers, beetles, butterflies, you name it. She would scoop them tenderly in her dainty hands… talk to them in her own language… then set them free. Other kids would either scream, cringe or run away in fear, while others would give them the smack a.k.a. cruel death sentence, or the usual life(less) imprisonment. I was guilty of all those when I was a kid who didn't know any better. But Elisa… she is something else.

She knows life is more than playing with Dora, Hello Kitty or Eloise. In fact, she doesn’t play much with her collection of toys. She would rather go out in the park, pick up stones to add to her collection, and run! Boy can she run like a bullet! And she has the perfect runner’s form! One time she ran (and didn’t stop) from her house to their car which was parked almost 2 kilometers away. She reached the car sweating like a pig, “Whew! I’m so tired but I feel good!”

Feeling good also involves doing... wild and dangerous things. Well.. just, as her mum would say, a tid bit. Like goin down the slide head first. That’s when you’re looking.
She loves laughing and goofing around. She makes you taste something that she thinks looks like sugar, and says IT IS sugar… but turns out to be salt. You play along and she bursts into that perfect hearty, kiddie, Elisa laughter. Ahh… salt is sweet!

But just as she is loko-loko, she is also reasonable. One night her dad gave her a toy catalogue so she could encircle the gifts she would want to receive for Christmas. One particular toy caught her eye and she asked her dad if it was expensive. It was 149 euros. Her dad reluctantly said yes. She immediately flipped the page and said, “Never mind!” That’s my girl!

Oh but she also has her bad moments, when she’s sleepy or when her 6 year old brother Nicolas teases her. But nothing like tantrums. Brother and sister are unbelievably good kids.

Of course the apple never falls far from the tree. Mom is a cool, sporty, intellectual activist turned full-time home-maker. She was a peace corps volunteer who's done tours of duty in places like Thailand, Africa and war-time Bosnia. Not to mention she’s a hell of a good cook. Gourmet, mind you.

Dad is a hotshot consultant in Paris -- but at home, he’s the coolest, funnest, most playful, laugh-out-loud dad. He would run with them, dance with them, bake with them, and at night, he would read them stories.

But while mom and dad share everything with the kids, the best part is that they also let them be. They let them laugh, run, explore, fall, get a "tid bit" of scrapes and bruises if they must. It’s all good!

Life is good, but when it all comes down to it, for Elisa, it’s not as simple as saying, “C’est la Vie!”

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