I have to admit that there are few prouder moments for me as a parent than when I teach Liam something new. Learning brings a gleam to a child’s eye that’s like a ray of sunshine for a parent.
Of late, we’re been exploring some of the sights built by Barcelona’s favorite son, architect Antoni Gaudi. Our most recent was to a building known as La Pedrera, or Casa Mila for the family that commissioned its construction. And as we walked out of the building the other night and Liam turned to me and asked if he could learn more about Gaudi and see a picture of him, I swelled a little with pride that my son was curious and wanted to delve deeper into the history and the man.
Then he said, “I want to see a picture of him getting hit by the tram.” Well, so much for fatherly pride.
After all, it’s still a six-year-old we’re talking about here, so even the healthy pursuit of expanding the mind comes with an ample dose of the macabre, or mentions of caca, or fits of giggles that should be recorded for future blackmail. (Seriously, where do boys get giggles that silly?)
I’m still hanging on to the warm feeling I get when teaching Liam something. It speaks to the belief that the most fulfilled people are those that are helping others. Everyday is a new opportunity to expand his knowledge just a tiny bit, and it’s a process I truly do enjoy. Even if I do have to mix in the occasional gory bit to maintain his interest.
I’m thinking his teachers have learned this trick too, considering the inclusion of the tram story in their lesson plans on Gaudi. The class completed a whole unit on Gaudi, learning about his famous projects such as Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell, drawing huge posters of the projects as a team and proudly displaying them outside the class. It led to Liam having a real obsession with Sagrada Familia since he was part of the team that drew a poster of it.
Sagrada Familia is a truly unmatched church with so many building styles combined into one that it looks like something out of Hollywood. We had seen it from the outside, but we took Liam inside around his birthday. It really is breath-taking on the interior as well, but still tough to fathom that it’s been under construction for over 100 years and isn’t slated to be finished for another decade. It should be on your list to see if you ever make it to Barcelona.
We visited La Pedrera at night as part of an interesting light projection they do among the cone-shaped structures on the roof. It was quite entertaining, along with being a great vantage point to see the lights of the city. The building was originally constructed about 100 years ago for a wealthy family as a home, along with about a dozen rental apartments. According to local scuttlebutt, there are still four families in the building on rental leases from decades ago with rents at some incredibly low level like 100 Euros a month. It makes rent control on New York sound reasonable! Beyond them, the rest of the building is a museum.
And, unfortunately, Liam has the story correct. Although already famous and revered in Barcelona, the 73-year-old Gaudi choose to dress like a tramp and was hit by a tram in 1926. He wasn’t transported immediately to hospital because the nearby cabbies feared he had no money for the fare, and he ended up dying from the injuries just three days later. A sad end for a man who has left such a mark on Barcelona, but an odd tail that just might be enough to keep six-year-olds asking for more. Always a silver lining, you might say.
RANDOM THOUGHTS: We have been pondering moving apartments. I’d love a deal like those at La Pedrera, but it seems like rents are heading upwards from when we looked a year ago. Some landlords clearly target the ex-pat crowd with rents that locals would never pay. On top of that, the odd system here where the renter ends up compensating the agency (instead of the owner paying) makes moving cost-prohibitive. It all feels rather backward… I’ve been pondering trying to get a Spanish driving license. The good news is, I can take the written test in English. The bad news is, some say the translation is bad enough that you might as well take it in Mongolian. I have a feeling there will be some stories to tell in the coming months…