Taking your daughter on vacation

betty ming liu Travel 14 Comments

PARIS, France — Boo-hoo! We’re about to head for the airport and home. I have tons of photos to share…later. Right now, there’s time for just one special picture that says volumes about our mother-daughter getaway vacation.

I left New York feeling like this trip would be a time to do some important personal reflection. After all, both of my parents spent time in Paris during their university student days. And with my daughter Gabi in her junior year of high school, I hoped that this overseas trip would get her interested in college study abroad programs.

Blah blah blah. Too much over-thinking on my part.

“Can’t we just be on vacation?” Gabi asked me a few days ago. That question really made me stop and reflect. It took me a while to respond with: “Sure, why not!”

So being here with my daughter and my dear friend Judy — Gabi’s godmother — has helped me to do some more letting go. My parents raised me to be purposeful. Fun was not a priority. But if I’m really my own person now, how about doing things for the sheer pleasure of it? What about being truly in the moment?

We found one of those moments during a Black Paris tour that we took the other day. Below is a photo from that excursion. That’s us, on a staircase filled with fabulous Swarovski crystals! Of course, seeing it instantly reminded me of the late, great African-American poet Langston Hughes, who lived in Paris when he was  young.

The crystal staircase at the fancy Swarovski store on Rue des Champs Elysees. Pretty nifty.

As an elementary school student at P.S. 1 in Manhattan’s Chinatown, I was required to memorize the famous Hughes poem, “Mother to Son,” which includes that unforgettable line about life not being a crystal stair. But to suddenly see a real staircase made of some of the finest crystals on the planet was pretty breathtaking.

Of course, the point is that life can indeed offer the crystal stairs of our dreams. This trip to Paris gave us a chance to find it together as mother and daughter. Which means that I am claiming “Mother to Son” as a poem for my Gabi:

Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor —
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
‘Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now —
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

That’s the message. No turning back.  No stopping. Never lose the dream. It’s out there — the crystal stairs.

Okay. Gotta run now to the airport. Au revoir!


Comments 14

  1. Welcome back, Betty! Always enjoy reading your blog although sometimes I am far behind about your postings! I cannot wait to see your travel photos! ^^

  2. Lovely photo – and thanks for the poem and for sharing your trip with us.
    PS. Many in our painting class emphasized with your experience of being robbed. What emerged from many people’s stories was the suggestion that in these days it’s best to wear your passport and money in a holder around your nexk, in front.

  3. Thank you for sharing that poem. Wish I could have been there for the Black Paris tour. You definitely did make Paris a fun and memorable vacation for Gabi and I. You never once let the inital mishaps dampen our trip. Instead, we got a few great laughs out of the incidents. Where are we going next?

  4. I am taking my children to Japan in June. I have not going back to my country for four years. ( I used to go there every year)We will be careful.
    Economically I am not able but I want to enjoy the moment when I can. We never know if we have tomorrow.

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    Shirley, thanks — will post more photos soon. How many can you stand to look at? Haha.

    Aw, Gerry, you talked about me in painting class? Miss you all! Wish I could still paint with you! And yes, I think I need to get one of those neck things. Hate the idea but it makes sense.

    Judy, it was such a pleasure to be with you. We laughed a lot. Have to pick the next location and I promise to be better organized!

    Pat and Susan, we had such a blast. I felt like the trip gave me a chance to catch up with Gabs, Judy — and myself. We’re all in good places!

    And Akiyo, have a great, great trip to Japan. Hope you enjoy the moment and have fun spending way too much money. :)

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  7. Well at least your phone didn’t end up in the lake! My sister invited her boss on a Vacation to Lake Powell a few years ago. Then she was on the cell phone making business calls for two days. Finally my sister asked her if she could barrow her phone and threw it in the lake! When her anger started to flare she told her “You’re on vacation, I’ll buy you a new phone when we get back”

  8. My grown up daughter and I have a lot of memories of Swarovski crystals in her teen years. I remember staying up into the wee hours of the night gluing thousands of crystals into designs of swirls and stars onto her skating dresses. Ah, those were the days of tenderly walking the fine lines of making or breaking mother/daughter relationship. Oh, but the crystals were beautiful sparkling out there on the ice rink (sigh!!!). I laugh now thinking how dreams do get shattered and we do stop for a moment, then continue to move on and grow up, the both of us.
    So glad you had a wonderful trip with Gabi & Judy.

  9. Pingback: Seeing the sights in Paris — with photos

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