xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' World Toddler: 5 Rattles for Buenos Aires, the City that Loves Children

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Sunday, March 13, 2016

5 Rattles for Buenos Aires, the City that Loves Children

Before boarding our 11 hour flight to Buenos Aires, Nolan and I wrote out a plane ride itinerary, so when one parent was “on” the other could relax.  Surprisingly, this plan worked beautifully, and I recommend it to all long-distance family travelers. For the first few hours on board, I jammed out to “Top 20 Latino Pop,” while Nolan and Sydney decorated the tray table with stickers, ate dulce de leche cheesecake, and scrolled through iPhone pictures.


All Cuddled Up on a Long Flight
  By the time it was my turn to take charge, Sydney was tuckered out.  After a few readings of “Biscuit Loves the Library,” she cuddled up into my arms, and swiftly and adorably fell asleep.  Meanwhile, Nolan watched “The Motorcycle Diaries” in preparation for our South American adventure.
We landed in Buenos Aires at 4:30 in the morning, groggy and disoriented, but generally astounded at how easy the flight had been. From beginning to end, Aerolineas Argentinas had gone above and beyond to facilitate our family: providing bulkhead seating, free extra seats, expedited security screening, and even a special children’s meal, served just after take off, well before the adults’ dinners arrived.
A Groggy Group Arrives in Buenos Aires
(Rachel, Nolan, and Syd)

Our taxi pulled up to our “sunny two bedroom apartment in the heart of Palermo SOHO” at 5:30 AM.  Upstairs, we all collapsed into bed, falling asleep to the sound of raucous Argentines who seemed to have just gotten their fiesta started. At around 11, Sydney started singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” and the rest of us slowly maneuvered  out of bed and prepared for our first day exploring the city of Buenos Aires. 

As we strolled through the wide, leafy sidewalks of Recoleta, Buenos Aires’ answer to New York’s  Upper West Side, Sydney zigged to touch every tree and zagged to woof at every dog. Then she spotted a large clock sitting elegantly atop a golden pedestal at the street corner.  Oblivious to all else, Syd sprinted to the clock, nearly tripping over a man strolling past us in the opposite direction.  Before I could utter “lo siento,” the man, in his mid-sixties and dressed as though he may have been returning from Sunday mass, reached down and gently tussled Sydney’s hair. He smiled reflectively—perhaps he has grandchildren the same age at home—and carried on his way, without even making eye contact with the negligent parents who had let Sydney almost knock him to the floor.  As the man walked on, Sydney briefly touched her head where the man had patted her only moments before.  Although  she was only vaguely aware of coming into contact with this friendly stranger, Nolan and I simultaneously remarked on the incident, surprised that, far from annoyance, this man had seemed pleased by Sydney’s youthful disregard for her surroundings.
Syd and Nolan at Palermo Cafe
Over the next five days, Rachel, Nolan, and I learned that our Recoleta friend was not an aberration, but rather exemplified the typical Argentine attitude toward children: one of respect and appreciation. Checking out at a stationary store, the cashier offered Sydney a juice box and pack of stickers for no other reason than to make her happy, even though she had shown no signs of discontent.  At an outdoor cafĂ©, our waitress served us beers and then made funny faces at Syd.  When the funny faces did not elicit a sufficiently large smile, she returned with a bag of toys.  At a fancy modern-Jewish restaurant, the server offered Sydney alfajores to help her recover from a severe case of the after-naps; and the businessmen sitting next to us at least pretended to be unperturbed by our crying rascal. 
Not everything in Buenos Aires is perfect  (see next post regarding muggings and cold showers). But the Portenos certainly get one thing right: They love children.  In return, children, ours at least, love them back.  This, in turn, enables traveling parents to experience all the meats, wines, and museums they desire, without fear of disapproving sidelong glances.  For this reason, in my book, Buenos Aires is a “5 Rattle City.”

Enjoying the Last Licks of
Hot Chocolate and Churros
at the Incomparable La Giralda
(that little cup she's drinking out of? the waiter brought it over just for her)

Making a Friend at the
nearby Playground

Playing at the Amazing Buenos Aires
Museo de Ninos (Children's Museum)
at Abasto Shopping Mall


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