The news reports that bribery doesn’t work for “Corporate America” but it certainly can work for a 3 1/2 year old. We are sorry to resort to such base copouts, but if it works, we’ll do it at this point. “If you (do this or that) you can have ice cream later.” usually works like a charm.
Traveling on a compact 3 week vacation schedule, with several short stops, is much different than one with only two houses to settle into. Costa Rica last year provided kiddie play each day in a low stress environment. Beach or the pool were the primary choices and our little, then 2 1/2 year old, was in heaven (as were we). This year, we are now in location number 3 in a little over 1 week. Hard enough for us adults to fit in all we want to see and do let alone a kid who only wants ferris wheels, food, and playgrounds. Not necessarily in that order. “I’m hungry.” is a favorite refrain even 15 minutes after a full course meal when she really just needs to do something fun as a kid.
Meltdowns have come and gone and will continue to come and go, of this I am sure. However, I have learned to call her bluff with my own fake crying fit which reduces her to hysterical laughter. Sometimes I just have a hard time taking her seriously when there is some attention-getting stunt she’s trying to pull off and she knows it.
Since we left the Sevilla train station (the train ride went well with the Leapfrog, crayons, stickers and journal in tow and laid out on our 4 top table between us). Our trip has been non-stop of more adult-themed activities like forts (Alcazabars) and cathedrals. I had another flippin’ fall the first night we were meandering down the back cobblestone streets in Seville. I think my problem is that with bifocals I can’t always see the gradation of the cobblestones and then the tip of my fisherman sandals catch in the edge of a step or a stone, which, in this particular case, landed me flat on the ground face forward. A small crowd gathered, along with my ego, and although The Kids thought I had cracked open my head from the sound of it, and looked very worried, I was able to stand, brush myself off, and continue onward. I am now very aware of every step I take and purposely lifting my feet higher than I would normally. Do I sound like an old person or what?!?
On this leg of the journey, I vowed to rest with Jordan in the afternoons so neither of us got so burnt out that meltdowns would be commonplace for both of us. Problem was that after finishing one or more activities, naps ended up being at 4:30 in the afternoon keeping us up until close to midnight later on. The cool apartment we were staying in had some work being done in the basement (we were in a mansion which had been converted to several apartments). This meant jackhammering waking us up at 9 a.m. (no one seems to start work early like the Americans). Our location was on a prime street (Mateo Gato) and just steps from the 3rd largest gothic cathedral in the world. The sounds I didn’t mind were church bells sounding on the hour and the clopping of horse hooves pulling carriages.
Sevilla was filled with the excitement of the Spring Feria (Fair) with locals preparing a year in advance designing their colorful flamenco dresses and casetas (individually owned party tents at the fairgrounds). Women of every age (including kids in strollers) dressed in their spring feria outfits, including Jordan. Oh, how she loved shopping with me to find her dress, fan, and special headband with a fake flower in the middle. All in pink, of course. She wanted to not only sleep in it (took some creative talking to change her mind) but also put it on as soon as she woke up (again with the creative reasoning that after breakfast and teeth brushing was best).
One morning we visited the beautiful palace and gardens of the Alcazabar which also brought Jordan and I up close and personal with one duck and two noisy peacocks strutting and wiggling their rear end feathers with all the panache of a strip tease show. Whether its a bird or a bug, bring some element into a tour that appeals to a kid. I’m also saying the word ‘architecture’ and pointing out gorgeous buildings. Anything to pique her interest even for a minute to ward off another “I’m hungry.” statement coming from her 3 1/2 year old head.
We were one of the first in line to see the inside of this massive cathedral, the world’s 3rd largest gothic with St, Peter’s in Rome as 1st and St. Paul’s in London the 2nd. The choir area was beautiful with carvings of mythical and symbolic creatures on arms of dozens of chairs in bleacher-type rows. Chistopher Coumbus’ remains in a casket (allegedly) are on display looking small in comparison to the 4 giant pallbearers flanking the sides of his simple wooden box held on their shoulders.
Later that afternoon, while The Kids were at a bull fight, Jordan and I caught a taxi to to the Macarena church where the famous Weeping Madonna was housed when not the center of attention in some religious parade or ceremony. I find my Catholic childhood bubbling up in the oddest ways by going out of my way to see things like this, but the statue was one of the prettiest madonnas I’ve seen and one of the most beautiful little churches. (It was also much more reverent than, say, the big cathedrals so the little missy had to really tone it down, which she did, all the while being a smart &@# by sshhhing me.)
From there we caught another taxi with Mr. Grumpy Pants the Taximan. What an unpleasant man! I shouldn’t have even tipped him, although that did seem to soften him up a little. Maybe he is one of those “good old boys” who think women and children make for cheap fares and/or tips. These guys need to wisen up to the 21st century to understand women could be their most generous advocate.
Anyway, he dropped us off at the Flamenco Museum where we saw an hour long flamenco show for €20. This was a bargain in comparison to what I had seen advertised so far. Jordan was dressed in her new pink polka dotted feria dress along with some Moroccan accessories I had bought for her in Granada. Wow, for a little kid, she did remarkably well during the captivating performance except for one very audible yawn during a soulful guitar solo and a little jangle of her Moroccan coin-like laden pink shawl. I managed to escape with her about 5 minutes before the performance ended thus eliminating any embarrassing moments from the particularly uptight fellow sitting in the row in front of us (which even had an aisle space between our rows, so it wasn’t like we were on top of him.).
From there we walked the side streets and found a playground (where for 2 terrifying minutes I thought I had “lost” Jordan) on the way to dinner at an interesting bodega (casual restaurant) where the motif was photos and paintings of every pose possible showing Jesus with his crown of thorns. A bit over the top but the food was decent. Jordan behaved well except when her suddenly shoeless feet perched on her chair; I quickly corrected her posture. Some tapas for us and a sherry for me, and we were off again.
We found our way back to the apartment by asking people where the cathedral was, which was all we needed to say to be pointed the way. One young guy walked towards us asking me something in Spanish and I gave the patent answer of “No habla Espanol.” He replied in American English, “Neither do I! Do you know where Alfalfa is?” It just so happened that was where we had just been so I was able to tell him the general direction of how he needed to snake his way through the calles. I asked him where the cathedral was and he had to laugh saying he had no clue. Jordan reassured me (not that I was nervous, as I knew we were going in the right general direction) that although it was dark now, we would find our door if we only kept our eyes open and kept moving forward. Kind of like life sometimes, isn’t it?