Interesting, no one fessed up to the whole trashing & towel stealing….but just so you know….
I’m just sayin’! In the meantime, now that I have gotten settled back in from MY incredible road trip, & have a moment or two before my own stolen towels need to be tossed in to the dryer, I know you’re all anxiously awaiting the results of my cheer weekend…right Cheryl??!! Surprisingly, despite living a mere 4 or 5 hours away from Quebec my entire life, it has only ever served as a means to an end…I have to drive through it to get to the east coast! Which I have visited more than a few times, & was even a homeowner in Nova Scotia briefly. But aside from my Gr. 8 trip to Quebec City (which I loved for the history, even at that age!), it just never held any real appeal for me. For those who aren’t aware, Canada has spent many decades dealing with infighting amongst ourselves, with Quebec fighting for the right to stand alone. I had numerous preconceived notions about what to expect from Montreal, including my inability to speak the language. I was pleasantly surprised to have them all shattered after an amazing weekend in La Belle Province!
What I Learned:
1. As an ever so helpful friend pointed out, after the fact when it mattered not thanks for nothing, Montreal is very bilingual, thus I did not make an ass of myself being lost in translation!
2. I have retained a surprising amount of my “holy crap, I can’t wait to be done Gr. 9 & never have to take it again” French.
3. Having my subconscious mind hammered with written French on a daily basis in my own province actually made it possible for me to muddle through most of the signage…at least well enough for a “best guess”….& to ensure there were no parking tickets!
4. My kid doesn’t deserve his A’s he’s always getting in French if I was the one doing most of the translating.
5. Quebec, much like me, prefers to do whatever the hell it wants. Which includes only having French on any & all signs, over the required bilingual signs throughout the rest of the country. It also includes choosing to ignore Victoria Day in favour of their own holiday, Saint-Jean Baptiste Day in June.
6. Habs fans may be more die hard than Leaf fans, with the city awash in a sea of red as we wandered past The Bell Centre a mere hour before the puck dropped, & fans spilled out in to the streets from every bar & pub in the city. Of course, we may never know since the Leafs don’t seem to ever be IN the playoffs….
7. My illegally obtained back alley weapon meant to protect us from said hockey fans was unnecessary, with police on high alert, visible on every street corner & patrolling on horseback, which was a sight unto itself!
8. There’s an entire city under the city, five levels & blocks worth of shopping.
9. DKNY is outrageously expensive….thankfully, five levels down & 6 blocks over, we found a Dollarama.
10. My kids don’t give a sh** about shopping…but glass elevators & fountains begging for every coin in my purse apparently rock.
11. My son is officially a man…as evidenced by this statement, “Dad, please tell me why there aren’t chairs outside of stores for guys to sit in while they wait for the girls to shop?”.
12. Despite not being much of a shopper, & just as happy as the rest of my family to say, “Alright now we can say we saw it, let’s get the frik outta here!”, Mommy still gets excited to find something she loves for a really great price….& came out very happy with a beautiful little cocktail dress off the clearance rack for $15!
13. When you wander aimlessly underground for blocks on end in a strange city, you will be lost when you find your way back up to the surface. But if you DO meet someone who doesn’t speak English, they will happily engage in a ridiculous combination of hand signals & shouting, (because a foreign language is more easily understood when screamed??) on a busy street to help you find your way. Though for all I know, she was really waving her arms at me yelling, “You f**king tourists are idiots!”.
14. Old Montreal is an incredible place, with charm, atmosphere, a million & one things to see & do, as well as the nicest people I have ever come across. It is now one of my all time favourite places I have ever travelled to. Admittedly, I haven’t travelled much outside of North America, but still…
15. I have a really hard time controlling my emotions when it comes to my kidlets….nerves on edge, as I anxiously awaited their arrival on stage Saturday morning to see if my injured girl had joined her team ….bursting with pride & blubbering like an idiot all at the same time to see her burst through that curtain….& me without my Valium necklaces. The girls? Cool as a cucumber…brats.
16. My girls are awesome little athletes, & The One I Butt Heads With much tougher than I give her credit for….despite being in pretty good shape for Saturday & all of us being so thrilled to see her come out & compete, by Sunday she was in rough shape again after so much activity the day before. Worse, during their performance, I saw her go down, & the tears flowing down her face as she powered through the rest of the routine….as I watched through tears of my own, fighting the urge to run up & grab her off the stage. They carried her out to me, ice on her knee, right after they got off…she was still crying. That kid totally took one for the team!
17. Despite the injury, & all the stress & worry to get her on that mat, it was worth every moment to see my beautiful cheerleaders & their team win SILVER MEDALS baby! In all of Canada!! Second place, Canadian Cheer Nationals! They totally rock…& I should’ve shoved a box of Kleenex in my purse for all the tears of love & pride I spewed that weekend! I don’t even begrudge the early morning call times, given that it gave us most of the day for sightseeing.
18. Despite the fact we were clearly NOT Quebecois, we were greeted with chatty, friendly people who were more than happy to engage us in conversation as we wandered this fabulous city. Our hotel was wonderful, an extremely reasonable deal for booking through our cheer club, yet fancy enough to impress even The Diva. Kind & generous to a fault, we were treated like royalty throughout our stay, with my name written in chocolate as a welcome greeting, that the rug rats promptly fought over to lick up, fresh flowers daily, that the rug rats promptly fought over to pose with, free internet, that the rug rats promptly fought over with me as I tried to keep apprised of my all important Facebook, & an amazing full breakfast buffet every morning, as well as extra perks being slipped to us regularly. Admittedly, having a gaggle of disgustingly cute little girls in tow always helps, despite the sullen tween boy dragging behind us. Mostly we chose to pretend he wasn’t ours. Plus, kids can frikkin’ swim for hours without getting bored….while my eyeballs are bleeding from the fake smile pasted on my face & the constant string of “Good job!” coming out of my mouth.
19. The Diva is far too inclined to a life of luxury, as we were greeted at the hotel by the chocolate plate, the fresh flowers arriving daily, dragging her out of DKNY by her ear, & chasing limos down the road yelling, “Wait, that’s my car!”….all of which she takes in stride, like she’s entitled somehow, whilst the rest of us feel kinda silly & uncomfortable by such unnecessary extravagance!
20. People look at you funny when you clean your own hotel room for 4 days & tidy & bus your own table in restaurants….don’t they know I’m a Mom frik?? It’s just what I do….can’t help myself…& kinda feel ridiculous about having some other poor schmuck have to clean up after my brats….is it just me, or are the rest of you like that also??
By the time we began to meander our way home again, after one of the best trips the Griswold’s have ever taken, & a pit stop to spend a gorgeous afternoon along the St. Lawrence, we were jubilant from our win & exhausted from long, busy days. Without a doubt, my kids are fabulous little creatures…despite the boy seeking to annoy 24/7, having to piggy back, carry, & tend to The One I Butt Heads With, The Diva with her sense of entitlement, & The Baby having a few cranky fits with the heat & all the walking. But to see their faces as they ran through the square, doing cartwheels, dancing with the performers, getting balloon animals from the clowns, bartering with the vendors along the cobblestone streets for their souvenirs, taking photos of their own, & marvelling at all the sights & sounds of a beautiful city that they too had fallen in love with, made it a trip none of us will soon forget!
*Their uniforms are actually quite modest, thankfully the season is over because they both outgrew them over the year! But the rules actually state “No bellybuttons should be showing”….one of the things I have always appreciated about our governing body, they are very careful to keep the younger teams modest & appropriate!
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