A comment

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Yesterday night my seven-year-old daughter was reading us a book before going to sleep. In the book a boy, Anton, gets angry because other kids do not want to play with him.

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Anton says he will leave and never come back, because he will be dead. And then he pretends that he is dead.

At this point my four-year-old son asked, “Is he really dead?”

To which my daughter replied, “Or course not. Can’t you see? He is just a small boy. Children never die. To die you have to live long and grow old. To die you have to become an old man with a beard. Haven’t you seen how old people look? He does not look old. Look! You can’t die when you are that young.”

“Aga,” said my son. “Then he is not dead.”

“Of course not. He is just pretending, because this is the way he plays.”

I just listened and my daughter kept on reading. I thought that the way children see the world is very different from how we see it. May be we know more, but their view is truer to what is should be. I keep thinking about her words and wondering what future in her head looks like. I get to know it little by little through her comments and games. Interesting & inspiring!

DSC_3069DSC_3070DSC_3071DSC_3072DSC_3073and at the end…DSC_3076

 

Rendez-vous

LFB Barcelona

I had a chance to spend one hour at the school where my daughter goes. A month ago she told me that she saw two moms of her classmates eating at the school canteen. She learnt that parents can come to school to spend an hour eating the food the kids eat and evaluating the canteen services. It is called Rendez-vous á la cantine. It took me couple of weeks to set the date and prepare the visit together with the school administration. I have been given the rules to follow and a questionnaire to fill in after the visit. The rules were simple: not to disturb children’s routine, quietly observe the children and the school staff, not advise or help children or adults, and not to spend more than one hour on the school patio. The questionnaire was about the quality and quantity of the food, the attentiveness of the canteen staff, the presentation of the food, the state of the food facilities, and the daily habits of the children while eating. 

The school where my children go accommodates 2,200 children. The catering service Serunion provides the food for all the children. Every day the children eat their lunch at school.

When I got to the canteen my daughter and her friends have just finished their lunch. She was happy jumping around me for 30 seconds, and then she told me to look for her in the patio after I am done with the food part. She also told me that I was lucky as today they had french fries and hamburger, which happens like once a month.

The canteen was large. One of the staff ladies showed me around and told me how I should proceed. The truth is that I have not been present to the school life since I finished high-school. We are talking about a 20 years gap. Things that are obvious to people working at schools appeared fresh and new to me. I took the tray as I have been told and got a fruit. Somehow the food line started with the dessert. The kids had to chose between an apple or a banana and between a greek yogurt or a cuajada (curdled milk). Then there were glasses for water, napkins, and silverware, including knifes. All kids got a fork, a spoon, and a knife. Next was the broccoli soup. The soup was served as the children arrived. Then there was hamburger (just the meat part, non the bread) and a choice of french fries or fried onions. I went for the onions. All the kids took the french fries. The last was salad, which included lettuce, tomatoes, hardboiled egg, lentils, carrots, and something else. The bottles of olive oil and vinegar were placed next to the salads. The kids helped themselves to pour those on their plates. The last were two choices of bread: white and wholewheat.

I looked around and found a table with some empty chairs. Each table sits twelve kids and as I have been told each class has two tables assigned to it. There is one canteen lady watching after each class. I was free to chose where to sit. I sat at a table with three kids on my left and two boys on my right. The kids on my left were finishing their food and talking. The boy had bread crumbs around his mouth and he was laughing and talking to the girls next to him. All of them were about six or seven years old. The amazing thing is that all the kids were happy. They laughed, talked, ate, made jokes, asked for more ketchup, and smiled non stop. I did not realize before how happy the kids are. The adults working with the kids seemed happy too. You can’t keep a tough face when kids are laughing and playing around you.

I did not notice how I ate my food. I enjoyed looking at the kids around me. They talked all the time. They were talking in French and making jokes. Probably around lunch time is when kids learn how to become social, how to eat and enjoy a conversation. None of the kids was screaming. Actually they mostly talked in normal voices and I could not always hear what the kids in front of me were saying. But when they laughed I inevitably smiled.

Patio LFB

When I finished my lunch I went to the patio to look for my daughter, I knew what patio her class plays in. However, I could not see her there. I met couple of her friends and they all were happy to see me, but they could not tell me where Lorena, my daughter, was. I went inside the building and asked somebody from the school staff if they knew where she could be. I have to tell that around patio there was a lot of school stuff.  All of the school staff wore green vests and were easy to recognize. I was not aware that so many people were involved in playing with the kids during the patio time. As soon as I have asked a lady in the green vest about my daughter a group of girls came running to us.

“Who are you looking for?” one of the girls asked.
“I am looking for Lorena. She is the one with two pony tails,” I said. “Do you know her?”
“No,” said one of the girls.
“Lorena Salvado?” said the other. “Yes, I know her. She is a friend of Aitana, right?”
“Yes,” I said.
“And she is a friend of Margot and Leocadie?” the girl asked again.
“Yes,” I answered. “Do you know where she is?”
“She is in the librbary. It is her library time. Do you want me to take you there?” the girl asked.
“Yes, please, ” I said. “What class are you from?”
“I am from CP 3, and she is from CP 4, and she is from CP 1,” she pointed to the other girls. “And Lorena is from CP 6, isn’t she?”

I nodded. CP is the first grade. There are six first-grade classes in the school. The girls took me to the library and showed me where to find Lorena. Once inside I saw her sitting with Aitana and reading books. I told her “Hi” and she run to me, gave me a kiss, and told me, “You did not search for me, right?”. I could feel that she was feeling a little bit awkward seeing me in her world. Thus, I just looked at her for a second, touched her pony tails, smiled, and told her I was going home, and that I loved eating at her canteen and visiting her school. Later in the evening Lorena told me she was nervous seeing me, because she knew she did not want me to leave the school and her heart beat twice as fast the moment she saw me.

Walking back home I thought that I loved her school because the kids were so amazing. They were open, helpful, happy, trustful. They played, talked, smiled, and learnt a great deal of social skills. I did not feel like an intruder, I felt like a guest. And I kept on smiling long after I have crossed the school gate.

I did not take any pictures, the ones I’ve posted here are from LFB website.

Cromos

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So, the kids are into cromos. Before they started school I did not know what cromos were. Cromos are those stickers that kids exchange with other kids at school. And sometimes, if they have the special albums they stick those cromos into the right place. There is Peppa Pig albums, Barca albums, Monster High albums, National Geographic albums, Animals albums, Pitufos albums and many more.

You can buy cromos in small envelopes at 0.60 Euros each envelope. There are six cromos inside the envelope. And when you have them in repeat you take them to school and exchange. Similarly to how we exchanged stamps when I was a kid.

Here are the envelopes with Peppa Pig cromos:DSC_1015

Here is the Peppa Pig album for cromos:DSC_1016

Here is the Peppa Pig album opened. You can see the empty spaces for cromos. Each cromo has a number on its reverse side and the kid has to find where that cromo goes inside the album.DSC_1017

Here are the Peppa Pig cromos:DSC_1031DSC_1033

Here are National Geographic cromo albums:DSC_1018

Here are some pages from the National Geographic albums:DSC_1020DSC_1021DSC_1022

And here are some National Geographic cromos:DSC_1023DSC_1024

Here are some cromos from Animals collection:DSC_1025

And here are the cromos from Pitufos album: DSC_1026

Here are the ones from Aviones album: DSC_1027

At last comes my daughter’s large collection of Monster High cromos. All the girls in her class collected and exchanged those. I refused to buy her the album as I found the images neither esthetic nor elegant. Finally she accumulated a lot of Monster High cromos and persuaded me to get her an album to have her collection organized. When we went to buy the album it was already out of print. Cromos collections are very time sensitive, there are about six to nine months to buy cromos for any specific album. Now her Monster High cromos are safely stored in a metallic box from cookies. DSC_1037DSC_1039DSC_1028

Friday 3:25pm

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There are two moments of the day that I treasure. First is in the morning when I take my children to school. The second is in the afternoon when I pick them up.

At 7:50am I walk my daughter to the Bonanova church where the school bus picks her up at 8am. She goes to the Pedralbes campus. She is the last kid to enter the bus as we live not far away from the school. Marisol, the woman responsible for the children in the bus smiles cheerfully, calls Lorena “corazon”, and wishes me a great day. The bus driver salutes us and the bus takes off.

At 8:45am my son and me get out of our building and walk to school. Fifteen minutes of jumping, running, hiding, talking, and laughing. Closer to the school gate my son recognizes his friends and sometimes runs to them. The school director greets all the parents at the gate. Once inside the school patio we go to the classroom door, and Carole, my son’s teacher, says, “Bonjour Miro” and “Ça va?”. “Ça va bien,” replies my son.

LFB

As a grown-up I have an impression that time runs differently inside the school walls. Like if the care of the teachers, the love of the school personnel, the attention of the bus drivers, the lettuce and strawberry planted by the children, the running little feet, and the children’s smiles made it magical. Every minute has a different purpose. Every word weights differently. Every hand is helping, strong, and kind. Every interaction leaves an impression.

Sometimes when I walk out of the school gate in the morning I feel a little bit silly, like if I was about to cry. Because I see the children’s growth; Because I have the full trust that they are transforming into real people. And this experience, this touch of magic and future, is transforming me too.

I love picking up the kids from school. 4:25pm every day, 3:25pm on Fridays.

Sunday Morning Routine (from 9 to 12)

DSC_9633Our routine changes depending on the place we live in. As we have been moving a lot, our routine consequently changed every year. I remember I read a blog entry by my brother’s friend. She wrote about her routine as a tourist in a new place. The post was a great read. And it made me think that unless I write it down while I am living it, in couple of years from now I will not remember what our routine in Barcelona used to be.

Sunday morning in Barcelona:

9am – The kids wake up and play some noisy game. Today they are playing with their dolls and teddy bears. All the toys fight between them and make a lot of noise. My four-year-old says he is going to put the teddy bears into a prison for making all that noise. Then my six-year-old tries to figure out where he heard the word “prison”. “You have not heard it from me. How do you know it then?” she asks.

9:15am – I get dressed and start making our breakfast while the kids are trying to kill their pajamas, fighting them with their wooden swords. Then we have our breakfast, Russian “oladushki” (pancakes) and some bread with olive oil and tomato (my Catalan upbringing). And coffee.

9:45am – While I hang the freshly washed clothes on the back balcony the kids are getting ready for the bike ride. Every Saturday and Sunday I take them for an hour bike ride in the neighborhood. This is the part of our day I really enjoy.

10am – We are out of the door of our apartment building on the cross of Muntaner Street.
DSC_0375We reach Plaza Bonanova and turn onto Passeig Bonanova. I love this street to go cycling with the kids. On Sunday mornings it is peaceful and quiet. We pass in front of La Salle school where one of my son’s friends go. The school gate is closed.DSC_0382We get to a small ramp that my son uses to zip down to the sidewalk. He does it every day with his scooter when I pick him up from his school. His school is just around the corner.DSC_0386We reach the newspaper stand called Zurich. The kids get down from their bikes and cling to the ball machine. Each ball costs 1 Euro and this time I tell them “no”. Sometimes though they do get a ball each. They call them magic balls.DSC_039510:20am – We continue our way to Plaza Sarria. We are more than half way there now. DSC_0397There is a gate in the white wall. My kids always stop there. The train (FFCC) line gets out of the tunnel there and if you stay long enough you get to see a train passing by. Today when the kids stopped at the gate, a nun that was next to them stopped too. She asked them if they were waiting for a train to pass by. My kids nodded. The nun smiled and waited a little bit with us.DSC_963710:30am – We stop at the cafe 5 Pino. It is nice and shady there. There is a small kiddy park where the kids play. There are eight pine trees next to the cafe. I think those are the only pine trees in this area.DSC_9667Sometimes we get a kids’ magazine to read together, and some coffee and croissants.DSC_967611am – We head to Plaza Sarria, which is just five minutes away. Actually the Sarria church is visible from the cafe. Today at 11:15am we heard the church bells ring for over three minutes. They were announcing the Sunday mass. We stop at the red light in front of Room Service cafe. This cafe has the weirdest opening hours ever. You never know if it is opened or closed. DSC_9641This is Plaza Sarria. Kids bike around it while we watch how the nearby restaurant, Santana, starts setting its tables outside.DSC_9652DSC_965811:45 – We head back to Passeig Bonanova and towards Plaza Bonanova. The Sarria Church is in the background. DSC_0400We pass by an organic grocery store. Surprisingly it is opened on Sunday. It always has some wonderful basket with seasonal vegetables next to its door.DSC_0406 We bike by the shade of the fence of the Mexican consulate. DSC_0414It is almost noon when we turn right on Mandri Street and go one block down. We pass Doctor Coffee (closed), Cafe Mandri (closed), and another bar that is open, but I do not remember its name. It has a large TV outside and people come there to watch football games each night.DSC_041612 (noon) – We reach Plaza Bonanova and go to Fornet to get some fresh bread. We can hear the bells of the Bonanova church while we wait in line to buy the bread.DSC_0422DSC_043312:05pm – We get the fresh bread and go home. Here it is looking back at the church from the corner of our apartment building. End of our morning trip 🙂DSC_0441

“What’s your favorite book?” I asked my kids (Part 2)

My son will turn four in February 2014, thus he is almost four now. To the amazement of our  frequent guests he loves to spend time with books. If the guest is willing to read to him, this will be a never ending story. He will accommodate himself on the guest’s knees and bring book after book to be read to him.

He also tells stories to us and our guests. Yesterday he told our friends who came for dinner “You know, I just ate a mouse!” And he went on enjoying the details of his imagination.

I asked him to give me some of his favorite books, and these are the ones he brought me.

(note:  because our family has moved three countries since he was born, he speaks good Russian, Spanish, Catalan, French and some English)

Favorite books of my almost four year old son:

1. Ecoute les bruits de la foret (Listen to the sounds of the forest)

Ecoute les bruits de la foret

 

2. Усатый-Полосатый Маршак (Children poems by Marshak)

Усатый полосатый

 

3. Chuggington magazine

Chuggington

 

4. La historia de El Cid Campeador adaptacion por Carmen Gil-Bonachera (The Story of the Cid adapted by Carmen Gil-Bonachera)

Cid el Campeador

 

5. Elmer by David McKee

Elmer

 

6. Let’s Go for a Drive by Mo Willems

Let's go for a drive

 

7. 10 Petit Penguins por Jean-Luc Fromental (10 Little Penguins by Jean-Luc Fromental)

10 petits penguins

 

8. The Empty Pot by Demi

The empty pot

 

9. Tante Bruns Fodselsdag by Billedbok and Elsa Beskow (Aunt Brown’s Birthday by Billedbok and Elsa Beskow)

Tante Bruns

 

10. Bonne nuit, Petit Ours! by Didier Zanon (Good Night, Little Bear! by Didier Zanon)

Bonne nuit, Petit Ours!

 

11. Como mola tu escoba por Julia Donaldson (Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson)

Como mola tu escoba!

 

12. Palmier de Noel pour Audrey Poussier

Palmier de Noel

 

13. Le Plus Malin pour Mario Ramos

Le Plus Malin

 

14. Renato aide le Pere Noel pour Maud Legrand et Virginie Hanna

Renato aide le Pere Noel

 

15. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

The Gruffalo

 

16. Лучшая книга для чтения от 1 до 3 (The best book for kids 1 to 3 in Russian)

Лучшая книга для чтения

 

17. 1001 cosas que buscar en el pasado (1001 things to spot long ago)

1001 cosas que buscar en el pasado

 

18. The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr

The Tiger who came to tea

 

19. Приключения Незнайки и его друзей Николай Носов

Приключения Незнайки

 

20. Sant Jordi i el drac por Anna Canyelles i Roser Calafell (Sant Jordi and the dragon by Anna Canyelles and Roser Calafell)

Sant Jordi i el drac

“What’s your favorite book?” I asked my kids (Part 1)

Every year I ask my kids what are their favorite books. I want to document their likes, because a lot of times I am curious to know what were my favorite books when I was their age. And I wish somebody would have done the list of what books I read the most when I was three, four, five, etc.

Last time I asked my daughter about her favorite books when she was five. Right now she is six and a half and the 2013 is almost over. I asked her and my son this morning to select about a dozen of their most favorite books. I will publish both lists.

Part 1Favorite books of my six and a half year old daughter
(note: she was born in California, USA, currently living in Barcelona, Spain and going to a French school. Her main languages are Russian, Spanish, Catalan and French, and some English)

1. El Mago de Oz por L. Frank Baum (The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum)

El Mago de Oz

2. Jean de la Lune pour Tomi Ungerer (Moon Man by Tomi Ungerer)

Jean de la Lune

3. Les Trois Brigands pour Tomi Ungerer (The Three Robbers by Tomi Ungerer)

Les Trois Brigands

4. Georges le Dragon pour Geoffroy de Pennart (Georges the Dragon by Geoffroy de Pennart)

Georges le dragon

5. La historia de los Reyes Magos (The story of the three wise men)

Los Reyes Magos

6. Чудо Чудное Русские Сказки (Russian Fairy Tales)

Чудо Чудное Русские Сказки

7. Planeta Tierra (Planet Earth)

Planeta Tierra

8. Маленький Принц Антуан де Сент-Экзюпери (The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery)

Маленький Принц

9. El Sistema Solar por Rosalind Mist (The Solar System by Rosalind Mist)

El sistema solar

10. Busca los Caballos (Find the Horses)

Busca los caballos

11. No Es Una Caja por Antoinette Portis (Not a Box by Antoinette Portis)

No es una caja

12. The Wonderful World of Knowledge, Transport

The wonderful world of knowledge. Transport.

13. Ponis por Laura Marsh (Ponies by Laura Marsh)

Ponis

14. Les plus beaux chevaux (The most beautiful horses)

Les plus beaux chevaux

15. L’imagerie du poney et du cheval (The visual dictionary of ponies and horses)

L'imagerie du poney et du cheval

16. Diccionario por imágenes del bosque (The visual dictionary of forest images)

Diccionario por imágenes del bosque

Hospital Waiting-Room Thoughts

Terre des hommes Exupery

This is one of my favorite books and its last pages had always impacted me greatly. Below I will post the English version of it. I know these lines by heart, however every time I read them, they are painful, as if I have stumbled upon them for the first time in my life. I am not suffering over them. I fall silent. If you read the last line with your heart you will feel that silence too.

This morning I was sitting at the hospital waiting-room. There were lots of kids with their parents. Nicely dressed and healthy looking kids. I was observing them, as they cuddled with their parents, as they watched cartoons, as they colored hospital coloring books. And I have faith that those kids will be taken care of. Maybe not all of them, but at least some, will read great books, will play creative games, will walk outside and observe people and life, will challenge themselves in the world outside of their house. They will think their own thoughts, speak their own words, create their own paths, they will help and inspire others. And there, in the hospital waiting-room, I thought that this was a pretty good progress that we as a society made in the past 50 years.

The thing that still worries me is the prevalence of the computer games over the on-the-street games, as well as the virtual world increasing dominance. I have nothing against the internet world. I think that the connectivity it offers us is amazing. It opens our generation the possibility to be in touch with others, to learn, to grow, to be independent and create our own value. It is great, as long as it remains the channel, not the final destination.
By that time it was my turn and I left the waiting-room and walked through the white door labeled as “Access A”.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………

Here is the English version of the yellow boxed text from the image:

“I sat down face to face with one couple. Between the man and the woman a child had hollowed himself out a place and fallen asleep. He turned in his slumber, and in the dim lamplight I saw his face. What an adorable face! A golden fruit had been born of these two peasants. Forth from this sluggish scum had sprung this miracle of delight and grace. I bent over the smooth brow, over those mildly pouting lips, and I said to myself: This is a musician’s face. This is the child Mozart. This is a life full of beautiful promise. Little princes in legends are not different from this. Protected, sheltered, cultivated, what could not this child become? When by mutation a new rose is born in a garden, all the gardeners rejoice. They isolate the rose, tend it, foster it. But there is no gardener for men. This little Mozart will be shaped like the rest by the common stamping machine. This little Mozart will love shoddy music in the stench of night dives. This little Mozart is condemned.
I went back to my sleeping car. I said to myself: Their fate causes these people no suffering. It is not an impulse to charity that has upset me like this. I am not weeping over an eternally open wound. Those who carry the wound do not feel it. It is the human race and not the individual that is wounded here, is outraged here. I do not believe in pity. What torments me tonight is the gardener’s point of view. What torments me is not this poverty to which after all a man can accustom himself as easily as to sloth. Generations of Orientals live in filth and love it. What torments me is not the humps nor hollows nor the ugliness. It is the sight, a little bit in all these men, of Mozart murdered.

Only the Spirit, if it breathe upon the clay, can create Man.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Wind, Sand and Stars

To Be A Mom Of A Boy

Miro in France

This morning making my son’s bed I thought about what it means to be a mom of a boy.

It means finding lots of trains and airplanes in his bed. I am still wondering how does he sleep with all these transportation devices. Exactly 3 trains and 11 airplanes.

It means feeding him breakfast while he circles in the kitchen with his tricycle. Almost a drive-through kind of thing.

It means inventing stories about tractor Mitia that only eats meatballs, but sometimes gets lost in the forest and has to live on the berries and mushrooms. A new story every meal.

It means hearing him debate with his sister that I am only his mom. He loves his sister, but he does not want to split his ownership of the mom. And then “my mom” pronounced in his sleep at midnight sound like the softest and kindest words somebody ever said to me.

It means fixing his broken railroads while he is at the daycare. I should be working in these productive hours, but I take 15 min to fix his railroads and the airport, so he gets excited when he comes home.

It means singing a song to him when he asks for it. Even if we are on a bus or in a cafe. Does not sound like a big deal, but if you ever hear me sing, you will know why I would not do it under any other circumstances in a public place.

It means not screaming when I see him standing on our dining table with a broom in his hand trying to hit an Ikea paper sphere lamp on the ceiling. It takes a breath to tell him, “Miro do not do it” and hug him and put him down on the floor.

It means letting him grow; Telling him medieval stories of cavaliers, princesses and noble men. I often find him fighting imaginary dragoons to defend mom or a princess. It means telling him about love through the story of The Little Prince.

It means to show him through love how to be independent. I love him as a mom, I love him because he is my son. And I will love him independently on who he becomes, what he does in his life or what he does not do in his life. This power of love will make him strong and independent, it will let him become whatever he choses to become. It will be with him for the rest of his life. It will be the base for his integrity, kindness, passion. And I believe that if I love him in this way, he will become all that. He will have the spirit of a Man.

Being a mom of a three-year old son is not about protecting, feeding or taking care of him. Really it is not, those are just tasks that anybody can do.  It is about giving him the freedom to grow into a Man. To show him that he is strong and passionate and gentle. To read him the lines that say that he is a part of the mankind and that his spirit is noble, not for himself, but for others. It is about passing him the love and light that will always be in his eyes, and that will make him act like a Man under any circumstances.

Being a mom of a boy means to be really thankful for everything he shows me in this world and within myself.

Barcelona, March 12th 2013

Princesses and Cavaliers

Princess and cavalier

Kids were running around on the Bonanova plaza. “I am a princess, I am a princess,” shouted the girls. “Monster, monster,” cried my almost three-year-old son, and with his imaginary sword started to fight an imaginary monster. “I am a princess, and the cavalier is defending me,” said one of the girls. “You can’t be a princess, because I am a princess,” said the other girl. “No, no, I am a princess,” said the third one. “Then I will be a queen, and you will be the two princesses.” After a three minute argument it was decided that one of the girls would be a pink-dressed princess and another one would be a purple-dressed princess. “What are you going to be,” they asked my daughter. “I will be a horse,” and my daughter started to trot like a horse around the plaza not paying any attention to the princesses. “If my brother is a cavalier, then I will be his horse. A cavalier needs a horse. Can I be your horse?” she asked her brother. The little cavalier nodded without stopping his imaginary fight with the monster and told his sister that her name will be Titan. Titan is my son’s favorite pony, sometimes we take him back-riding in a local pony club and he always wants to ride Titan.

There we were, a group of parents watching our kids play on a sunny afternoon after school. My three-year-old imagining himself to be a cavalier and fighting imaginary monsters. My five-year-old trotting around the plaza like a horse and making all the adequate noises. She was totally absorbed by her horse character. And her five-year-old friends were grouped in the middle of the plaza discussing what kind of princesses they would be.

I am wondering if all the girls naturally want to be princesses or is it something that the society heavily pushes on them and their parents support? I honestly do not think that eighty percent of the girls prefer pink and purple to all other colors, and that they mainly want to play princesses. It is the media and the society that tells our daughters that this is what the girls should like and be like. And we as a parents are just lazy. We do not use our own judgment  because it is always easier to go with the flow. Do not get me wrong, there is nothing bad in wanting to be a princess. But is it really pink that makes one?

I think that we greatly misunderstand what being a princess or a cavalier means. It is not about dresses, it is not about owing a spade or a knife, it is not about wearing pink. It is about patience, it is about education, it is about manners, it is about deep feelings, honesty and integrity. Occasionally I saw girls, that appeared to me real princesses. I saw them at the cafe or at  a party. And by the way they hold their cup, by the way they wait their turn to speak, by they way they can ask you a question or give you a compliment, and be honest and fresh in their words, by all that they remained me of real princesses. And by their genuine and open smiles too. And I, like everybody else, felt lucky to be around them. I even stole some tips from those children, and tried to pass them to my own.

There is nothing wrong with wanting our sons to be cavaliers and our daughters to be princesses. Not in words or color of the dress though, but in the essence of the concept.

I often question myself how to teach our children to be patient, to use their own judgment and to be able to think for themselves. To meditate, and to stop and breath through difficult situations, and not to be guided only by their emotions. I wonder how to encourage in them the deep feelings and attachment towards others, towards the people that surround them. We read books that talk about honesty and beauty. I tell them stories and I talk to them about what surrounds us. Yes, I also try to teach them manners, to show them how to be genuinely interested in others. And, no, I do not think that manners are old-fashioned. I ask myself how to encourage them to learn to listen and to ask questions about others. To always look tidy and clean. To never say “I want” or “Buy me this”. And, finally, words do not matter that much. Kids learn from us, from how we behave, from what they are exposed to in their everyday life. And my yardstick as a parent is to watch myself more than I ever did before, to be a good example to them. To never be lazy. And, of course, to offer them all existent colors to dress in, to like and to play with.

And then, if my daughter decides that she prefers pink, I am fine with that.

Barcelona, January 31st 2013