Saturday, October 27, 2007


We are standing in a farmacia, relieved to have finally found one that is open during siesta hours. The pharmacist is squinting at the fine print on a container of children's fever reducer as Paul uses his Blackberry to try to convert Evan's weight from pounds to kilograms. "You'll need forty drops of this," the pharmacist says finally, handing me a bottle of red liquid. "Forty?" I repeat incredulously. "Yes," he replies, squinting at the package insert again a bit uncertainly. "Four zero." I shake my head. There is no way that I am giving my child 40 drops of a medication that has warning labels I cannot even read. "What are our other options," I ask. "Surely Spanish 3 year olds do not take 40 drops of this medication every time they get a fever." He shrugs, pulls out a box of adult pain relievers. "You could break one of these tablets in half and maybe grind it up..." Paul seems to think this is the better option. I watch him purchasing the box of medication, knowing that there is not a shot in hell that I'm giving my child any of this stuff without a more credible explanation of what the dosage should be. We will simply have to do a better job of rationing the few Children's Tylenol tablets I have left in my toiletries bag. I reach down to feel Evan's forehead for the millionth time and discover that he has fallen asleep in his stroller again while we were talking to the pharmacist. He feels warm, but not burning up -- maybe 101 or so? I look at Paul, shrug. "I guess we should let him sleep for now." Julia looks hopeful. "Does this mean we can go to the Picasso museum?" she asks. "Might as well," Paul replies. We spend the next hour or so exploring the museum with Julia while Evan dozes feverishly. As we emerge from the building, a postcard of Julia's favorite painting clutched in her hand, Evan wakes up. He is delighted to discover that he's just in time for ice cream. But halfway through his cone of chocolate gelato, he announces that he's done. I sigh as I look for a bin to throw away the remains of his snack. If the kid isn't finishing his ice cream, he's clearly pretty sick...

It was bound to happen eventually. In truth, the fact that we made it through a full year of dragging our young kids around Europe before anyone got ill on a trip was probably more fortunate and unlikely than we realized. Our luck ran out this week in Barcelona. Evan developed a fever on the flight over which plagued him the whole time we were there. With few other symptoms and a decent capacity to bounce back each time he got a dose of our hoarded Tylenol stash, it hardly seemed necessary to hightail it back to London immediately. But clearly we couldn't keep up a frantic sightseeing pace either. And so we persevered, trying to strike a balance between "once in a lifetime trip to a heady and intoxicating city" and "responsibility to our sick kid." An extra beer at a beach bar while Evan dozed and Julia played in the sand. A simple pasta dinner prepared in the hotel room as the tapas bars twinkled invitingly out of reach six stories below. La Sagrada Familia, but not Parc Guell. The Barri Gotic, but not Montjuic. I suppose that we make compromises every time we travel with children anyway; this trip, we just made more than usual.

Despite the fact that Evan insisted all week that his ears did not hurt at all, when we finally returned to London and headed straight for the doctor's office, his left eardrum literally burst right in front of her and his mysterious fever was suddenly explained. Now on antibiotics, he's cheerfully telling anyone who'll listen about his "great" trip to Barcelona and Julia is filling postcard after postcard with descriptions of all the fun things she saw and did on our trip. That we did not have all of the adventures I'd hoped for hardly seems to matter in hindsight -- the kids had fun, the pictures are decent and everyone's healthy in time to return to school tomorrow. As for all of the "must sees" on my Barcelona checklist that remain unseen? I guess they just mean that Barcelona will have to be a "twice in a lifetime" destination for us. I won't complain.


Blogger Patois said...

So glad that he is fine and dandy now. It sounds like the both had a great time, kid style. And I'm with you, I'm never giving 40 drops of anything to a kid. In fact, I don't think I'm ever taking 40 drops of anything, unless, of course, it's liquor. Or Diet Coke.

2:41 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Barcelona is one of my favorite cities and your pictures have me drooling. The ones in the market are especially fantastic. And I'd have the one you titled "At the Waterfront" (?) in a frame pretty quickly. Gorgeous! But are you sure that adorable little boy was sick? What a good sport! (What's with no Children's Tylenol anywhere in Barcelona??)

Here's to it being even better the second time around. :)

1:29 AM  
Blogger AnGlOpHiLe FoOtBaLl FaNaTiC said...

Wow. You're lucky it didn't burst in air. I got sick in Nice three days before our flight back stateside. I wasn't allowed to travel for five days. We enjoyed the Mediterranean a little longer than planned.

2:43 AM  
Blogger Badness Jones said...

I spent a year in London - God - 10 years ago now - and loved it. I'm so jealous! And I had an English friend then who hoarded the Tylenol she bought when she visited her sister in the States. All the comforts of home...

3:50 PM  
Blogger Gina said...

He was sick? He sure didn't look it in the photos! Wow, what a little trouper!

1:01 AM  
Blogger Steph said...

Poor Evan, though you wouldn't know it from looking at the pictures. Glad he's doing better now, and that you had a good time despite the sickies.

11:02 PM  
Blogger Liesl said...

Oh, poor Evan. I'm glad he's doing better now. I'm glad you all managed to have a fun time despite his ear infection, and heres to everyone staying healthy from now on!

1:31 AM  

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