MADRID: We Found Every Playground and Park in the City, It Seems October 23 2010

We made it back home from Spain in one piece, and I've got to say, the toddler K did great. She's not a melt-down kind of child, and that's no thanks to anything we do. It's just her natural temperament. Yeah, we know we're lucky. I'm sure if there's a number two it will be all hell all the time.

This was the first time we take a 'vacation, with child' that wasn't to a place where we had family or friends waiting on the other end to cushion the travel pangs. There's a whole lot of little things about traveling with children that I learned/picked up/realized on this trip, but one of the biggest was that the playground is your ally. When the toddler gets restless and starts going guidi-guidi-guidi-guidi (asi se queja la toddler K ahora) and doing that straight-as-a-board thing in the stroller, find the nearest playground or park and go straight to it and let the child have at it.

We must have gone to at least a half dozen zonas infantiles during the week we were in Spain, not including the plazas and parks which also give a lot of space for a kid to go loose. And although the toddler K can give a monologue that will give Castro or Chavez some stiff competition, she isn't really talking so other kids still ignore her, for the most part. But she still managed to get kicked by a little boy, and got her hair pulled by a little girl, whom her ninera said was a "malilla" ever since she was born. She did find a few nice kids, though. But the ones who were really sweet to her were the adults, and even teenagers -- much more interactive with her than here in the U.S. A lot of folks would talk to her, smile or make a playful face. They would do this everywhere -- at restaurants, in the metro, in the stores. It was kind of refreshing to be in a place where folks didn't have their eyes stuck on the Blackberry or iPhone at all times and too busy to notice the world around them.

We kept a pretty brisk pace throughout each day but the toddler did take naps every day either back at the apartment we rented, or in her stroller. And we essentially just let her stay up really late to make up for the time difference, although that did mean having to wake her up in the morning. But now that we're back seems she didn't miss a beat in her sleep schedule at night, so score!

Oh yeah, and all these pics are taken at different playgrounds or plazas. Yes, we really worked our poor child out. And she wore us out, but in a good way.