by Chris Noonan Sturm
As we enter the new year 1997, it's an appropriate time to take stock of what it means to be a couple with children in Prague. For those who might be anticipating such a blessed state but aren't there yet, here are a few of the things you can look forward to.
You know you're living in Prague with children when:
- You find yourself craving a Fidorka -- preferably one in a blue wrapper -- during an important meeting at work.
- The guards wake up and pay special attention to you and your energetic companions when you tour a museum.
- You don't know a thing about the hippest clubs, coolest cafes or hottest bands, but can refer friends to the parks with the best jungle gyms.
- You try accidentally on purpose to lose your kids when you walk across Charles Bridge in August -- and almost succeed.
- You rent paddle boats on the Vltava for races rather than romance.
- You've collected, and then have stepped on, almost every of those excruciatingly small toys inside Kinder Surprise chocolate eggs.
- You rush your kids past the newspaper and magazine kiosks displaying the most blatant girlie magazines in hopes of protecting them from an early education, then get into a cab with cheesecake pictures on the dashboard.
- You're at a loss to explain why bread is served without butter in restaurants.
- You're on first-name terms with the staff of very outdoor hotdog stall on Wenceslas Square (ditto with the counter staff at Dunkin Donuts).
- You know the phone number of Affordable Luxuruies babysitting service by heart.
- You have more rows of shoes outside your apartment door than Tesco has for sale.
- You're stumped when trying to explain to your kids why silver cherubs are pointing at a glass-encased tongue in St. Vitus Cathedral, or why there's a bearded lady saint in the Loreto.
- The hip clerk on duty at one of the English-language bookstores looks at you funny when you ask if there's a children's section.
- The main topic of conversation among most of your acquaintances over 30 is the comparative merits and demerits of Prague's American, German, French and British schools.
- Every weekend means you're hosting a sleepover -- one of the primary social activities for the pre-teen set -- or taking your children to one.
- You have more boxes of juice in your fridge than bottles of Dobra Voda, Muller Thurgau, Radegast and Mattoni combined.
- You know every four-digit stock number of the Lego sets in all of the major department stores.
- You go to an American children's movie and discover it's dubbed into Czech because, of course, children are too young to read subtitles. You stay anyway for the popcorn.
- Every first conversation with a new acquaintance includes the exclamation: "You brought kids to Prague!?!?"
(Originally appeared in the Prague Post English-language weekly.)