Our children are funny, smart, and caring little people. Yet, they have next to no appreciation for Moorish architecture or flying buttresses. Except, perhaps, that buttress has the word “butt” in it.
I am not surprised about this. When asked, my oldest described a perfect day as “I would go to the beach and have a race with mom and beat her.” Throw in some candy and an episode of Phineas and Ferb, and it would be heaven in one day.
Not once did he mention gilded frescos of the Virgin Antigua or the elegant proportions of the Mudejar style. Not even a little bit.
And, at times, there was actual dragging. There was hunger and tears. I didn’t get to read every detail about the artwork, and I skipped about half the buttons on the audio guide. And yes, I hissed to my oldest, “You don’t know how lucky you are to be here. There are lots of kids who never see this.”
To which, he mumbled, “I’m so unlucky that I have to go to this awful place.”
Oh, the shame! Thank God most people there couldn’t understand English.
It’s crossed my mind that this experience would be different without our children. So quiet. Decadent. Educational.
But yet—there is so much joy to be had with them. Watching them play with Spanish children in a downtown playground, as we enjoy a glass of vino blanco. Seeing an older woman whisper, “Hola, guapo,” as she musses my youngest son’s blonde hair. Rolling my eyes and laughing with another couple as our children squeal at pigeons. These are personal connections that extend beyond language, faith, or geography. Children root us.
You know what else they do? They change their minds. My oldest proclaimed that the things we viewed were both fun and awesome—at least in his memory, if not during the actual event. I’ll take it
We will continue to take them where we want to go—museums, buildings, cultural events, and restaurants. We will smile when they grumble. Beauty is contagious, and we trust that with repeated exposure, they will succumb to wonder.
We will also seek out beaches, carriage rides, playgrounds, and yes, even the occasional water park. We will let them chose what we do when we visit a new city, with the understanding that we get to choose as well.
Because we’re here together—it’s not about them, it’s not about us. We all matter. We’re all going try new things.
Even if we’re so “unlucky” as to be in a gorgeous region of Europe for three years? We’ll make the most of it.