On the day of the Three Kings Day parade, I trudged up the street, still littered with the caramelos tossed on the parade route. My boots, covered in a thick crust of crushed candies, clung to the ground with each step.
I watched my oldest ahead of me, walking with my husband and our landlord. As they walked, my landlord placed his arm on Owen’s shoulder. My son sank into him, placing his hand on his.
So natural. And so commonplace. And by far, my favorite part of this country.
The Spanish adore children. They cherish them. Never have I seen such universal tenderness towards the young.
There is constant touch. Today, my youngest got in trouble at preschool for not using his words. His teachers talked to him, and then said, “We still friends, Guapo,” giving him a hug and a kiss on the cheek.
Because my younger son has blonde hair and blue eyes, he is irresistible to a certain subset of mature Spanish women. “Blanco!” they call, rubbing his head. “Hola, Rubio!”
From the mechanic to the man working at the fish market, my children hear the same thing: You matter. We will protect you. We love you.
At that same parade, earlier that day, we were (again) walking with my landlord’s family. This time, we were with their eleven-year-old son. And without being asked, he held Joel’s hand while we crossed the street. He ruffled his hair, and bent down to talk to him.
An 11 year old boy.
What a beautiful place.