I have always loved soccer so, so much

Actually, no. Usually it’s boring. But of course the World Cup comes with its own zip and of course people are a tidge more excited in Spain than in the US. Spain is, of course, nuts for soccer, and they had never even made the quarterfinals before this year, so they are sort of the Chicago Cubs or pre-2004 Red Sox of soccer. I suppose that should make it even more exciting than if we were in someplace that is used to winning, but since those places are Germany, Italy, and Brazil, probably not. Anyway, there were fireworks in the courtyard and, though Max has a touch of the world cup fever, he is scared of loud noises and therefore is rooting for Holland in the final.

More exciting for us has been his transformation from a sleep-deprived psychopath (the first seven days) to a well-rested and only occasionally insane kid. He has put away his mitt since a few days ago when he insisted that we buy him a soccer ball and it has not come out since. All his free time is spent kicking the ball against the walls of our courtyard. We would probably have preferred to have him just ask one of the 75 kids playing soccer in our courtyard if he could join them, since he plays only alone, and with a wide berth around him, or maybe with Abe if Abe is not chasing a dog, but Max is Max and he does not like crowds or kids taking the ball from him or anything like, you know, a pickup soccer game.

So we bash it off the wall for hours on end. But then two kids came to the courtyard with their dad around lunchtime and Max, out of nowhere, said in a whisper, “Dad, ask them if I can play.” Soon he was off to the races, only returning to us to report when he had understood a Spanish word. Here they are:

Max is about as good as any American 5-year old, but as he has been playing for 4 days straight, he can hold his own in kicking it around, so he had fun.

Later that week, we took him to the Aquarium. On the way, he went insane again and nearly had to return home, but he pulled it together long enough to be wowed by the sharks and stingrays. And then, after those, we popped out at the exit. For 50 Euros a family, the damn thing should last more than an hour.

We did better the next day, when we bought a little platform for the back of Abe’s stroller so Max no longer needs to walk. When all else fails, think,”if my kids were Renaissance princes, what would their parents do?” This preserved enough energy for him to make it to lunch, and he inhaled about $30 worth of tapas. Something about quince paste makes kids batty. Today he came with me to the water park, played in the sand, and then declared that he wanted…pickles. This can be bought from your neighborhood olive vendor, so we went off to find them, but he fell asleep on the way, then ate about 500 pickles when he woke up. Happy Hour!

Tomorrow we are unfortunately going to something like an air conditioned, indoor playground. Mostly this trip is doing the same crap we do at home with more Spanish, more meals out, and more pickle vendors. It is a good way to live.

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