Barcelona… the ugly truth!
We love our weekends away so recently, I surprised Lovely Hubby with a few days in Barcelona to celebrate his birthday.
There were many points throughout the journey where we were a little confused what has happened to our lives. On more than one occasion, we found ourselves sitting in random Barcelona restaurants, head in hands, staring at the floor and wondering where this fear inside us was coming from.
It’s nothing to do with Barcelona. It’s a fabulous city!
The people are friendly, the food is great and the Gaudi touches make it fun and interesting. The perfect weekend away.
We saw all of the big city highlights and even explored some of the beautiful countryside nearby.
The fear can all be traced back to a certain little pint-sized individual, affectionately known as, the Little Chubs.
Let me start from the beginning…
We’ve done a few trips recently. Austria, the Seychelles…all of them have been great. The odd incident here or there involving the Little Chubs, but generally things run pretty smoothly. One of our major learnings has been that the first day will usually be bad while he’s adjusting to the timezone but then he straightens himself out.
That is until this particular trip where we were faced with the wrath of a Little Chubs who has started to come of age – toddler tantrum age that is.
Little Chubs is pretty cute. He’s our main man most of the time and he cruises around town charming people with his toothy little grin and exceptionally bad, but loveable hairstyle.
But Barcelona seemed to inspire a little more discontent than normal and the brain snaps and tirades seemed to happen with slightly alarming regularity.
Barcelona starts out great…
Things always start out well.
On the way to the airport, there he is, singing and dancing all the way. “We’re going on the big plane… I’m going to watch Dora” on repeat over and over and over again.
Lovely Hubby is completely chuffed that he gets to explore some of Spain, one of his bucket list destinations.
And Miss Sparky is relieved to be able to spend 6 hours staring at a screen without anyone yelling at her for being on the computer.
Life is good.
We are still blissfully unaware of the sad fact that we are now under the complete control of this angry little human.
Where did it all go wrong?
As we’re messing around trying to get bags in lockers, stuff under seats and move blankets to be able to sit down, the little chant begins… “Dora, Dora, Dora…”
It gets a louder each time. I can see hubby starting to sweat as he’s madly grabbing stuff out of the bag, shoving things in the locker and scrambling to get Chubs his headphones so he can have his beloved Dora.
A sigh of relief as he is momentarily quiet.
The emotions hit fever pitch again a couple of hours later when Hubby dares to try and remove the headphones and suggest that the Chubs might like to have a little rest.
‘BAAAHHHHHHHH.. I want DORA!” he screams as Hubby tries to distract him with some cars and a juice. Lots of “NO NO NO NO NO” can be heard ringing around the plane as Hubby starts to get a little tense.
This is how it works now…
Toddlers are all about them and their world.
And so, when someone makes a suggestion that the Chubs doesn’t like, he says no. Then he says it louder. Soon he starts screaming it and then the kicking and chucking of toys starts.
Often, this is beautifully mirrored by Lovely Hubby’s own emotionally charged reactions. He tends to stay calm for the first few NOs but then he starts to get just as angry as the Chubs.
I tend to have a slightly longer fuse than Hubby but there’s something about this little guy and his complete and utter defiance that brings out the worst in you. And when you’re travelling, there’s not always the luxury of the timeout space or the option to walk away from a conflict. Crowds, subways, restaurants and hotels can spell disaster with small people around.
Such is our lives now.
The flight continues…(yep.. we haven’t even gotten off the plane yet)
So, Hubby sticks to the plan that it’s time for a nap. Much yelling and screaming, finger pointing and threatening ensues. The lack of a suitable time out space in a small metal tube hurtling along at 500kph (aside from shoving him in a toilet) means that we revert to primal, but poor parenting behaviour to try and keep him quiet. He eventually falls asleep.
We all breathe a sigh of relief.
Miss Sparky is sitting on the aisle looking completely mortified that she’s associated with this family and hubby and I hit the attendant call button in unison to order a stiff drink!
This is pretty much how the Barcelona weekend continued. The more tired the little man got, the crazier the incidents.
Of course, I am well aware that he’s young, and that travel takes its toll. He’s also the type of kid who really needs his naps. So we are fully cognisant of the fact that this entire thing was our fault.
But in hindsight, it’s still pretty damn funny.
Take an inside look at our time in Barcelona…
Let me list a couple of the key Barcelona incidents:
- We head to a little café for our first Spanish desayuno (breakfast) experience. The Chubs demands a choc chip cookie for breakfast, crying at anything else that’s offered. We give in and get him the cookie to take the path of least resistance. When he gets it:
- it’s the wrong shape
- the plate placement is not to his liking
- Miss Sparky takes a crumb off the plate making him completely crazy.
Cookies are suddenly flying and there’s lots of tears from all involved. I lose it on this occasion and breakfast ends with him being shoe-horned into the pram and clattered out onto the pavement to the tune of something like “man.. you’re such a little turd!!!”
- We tour the beautiful Gaudi masterpiece that is Casa Batillo.
Again, it starts off well and he loves the foyer and running his hands along the beautiful hand crafted timber bannister. Then we have to move to the next room:
- Screams of “I want to go back there” over and over and over and over
- Climbing the stairs to the chant of “no no no no”
- Exploring the roof with a crying banshee bouncing off the walls yelling “take me back there”
When we finally get out and breathe a sigh of relief, he settles back in his stroller and promptly falls asleep. We take a moment to sit at a bus stop and just stare into the distance.
- We head to the fun and colourful Barcelona wharf area of Port Vell for a birthday dinner for lovely
hubby and a celebratory drink. The Chubs awakens from a nap and takes exception to:
- Our table of choice
- The fact that the menus are moving in the wind
- The shape of the seat
- The paper napkins flapping underneath his plate
- We finish the meal to the constant screams of “no… they’re going to fly away” with each breath of wind. Exhuasted we head home to put him to bed and stare at the floor in desolation.
- We’re crossing the road alongside the fun and busy Plaza Catalunya. Chubs has been screaming for a good 5 minutes – we’re not sure exactly what about. I think a leaf moved the wrong way on the tree and a pigeon definitely looked at him funny. We end up having a yelling match ourselves about whether to turn right or left at a junction where we know that either way gets us to the exact same spot. Yes that’s right – wheels are coming off.
- Exploring the lovely little town of Girona for the day and Hubby makes a deal with the Chubs that he can have a new wooden car if he’s a good boy. You know what they say – when you make a deal with the devil…
And the quiet townsfolk are not ready for what hits them when the Chubs reneges on the deal. Cars are being thrown and chairs shoved all over the ground as he takes exception to the drink he’s ordered and the fact that he has to use two hands to hold it. Hubby is devastated his bargain fails to achieve a positive result.
This pattern continues on and off over the five days.
A brief moment of joy…
One of the places he is actually happy is of course the very cool Gaudi park on the hill, Park Guell. Here, he can run around, get dirty, throw things and make as much mess as he wants.
We also love the outdoors as his screams are less noticeable.
He has a moment of absolute joy and cuteness where we think he’s just the best little dude in the universe.
Then, quick as a flash, the wheels start to fall off again, the finger pointing starts and everything comes crashing to a halt. And you can never predict what the trigger will be.
Lovely hubby even starts to google “personality disorders” and “autism symptoms” as we’re lying in bed one evening wondering how the day turned out that way.
The reality of weekends away with little ones!
But still, we have to be realistic. This is what weekends away with little kids can be like.
There have been nights where we haven’t had the energy to do more than lie there, reflecting on the various incidents of the day and wondering what happened.
But then we wake up to a fresh new morning and we hear that little voice singing as he runs to our room for morning cuddles. It’s then that you realise that travel, just like life, comes with ups and downs.
And one thing is for sure. We will NEVER forget our trip to Barcelona! A birthday to remember!
For those of you out there travelling with toddlers… good luck to you. Stand firm and remember, you’re bigger than they are!