Princesses, fairies, mermaids, unicorns! If your little girls are anything like our little girls, they love to dress up and make up games using these personas. I love how vividly their imaginations work, and how creative they are in their stories. But for our little Aeryn, age two, it is more than just make believe. She truly believes that she is a princess.
We chose to visit the Royal Palace on our first full day in Madrid. Our children were still jet lagged, and we needed some interest on their part to motivate them to explore with us. They perked up noticeably at the prospect of visiting a palace. So we hopped on the subway and traveled up to Puerta del Sol. Then we walked down Calle del Arenal, past Teatro Real, to find the Royal Palace.
Beautiful gardens in the Plaza de Oriente decorate the approach to the palace. Statues of Gothic kings line the walkway that leads to the front entrance.
The Palacio Real is one of the attractions you can visit using the Madrid card. The entrance in the front by the gardens is used exclusively by tour groups and Madrid card holders. There was no line when we got there, so we were able to go right in. There is some security, a metal detector and guards which will search your bags before entering the open courtyard.
The palace is beautiful. It was built in the 1700’s, to replace the old castle destroyed in a fire. The beauty of this palace was in part inspired by the beauty of the palace of Versailles. The weapons room is especially impressive. All of our children liked visiting the palace, but the most enthralled by it all was Aeryn.
Here are Lexi, our babysitter, and our little Aeryn posing on the balcony overlooking Casa de Campo. This is one of Aeryn’s princess poses. The lifting of her heal and downcast eyes are very deliberate on her part. She will often clasp her hands together to complete the pose.
After enjoying the view, we went back into the main courtyard. Aeryn started talking about her palace. “It’s my princess castle, mama.” “I love my princess castle, mama.” Such beautiful, bubbly expressions poured out of her! Then, Abigail, who is 5 and has somehow decided that she is the enforcer, told her that it is not her palace, and she is not a princess! What came next? Tears and screaming. Aeryn, with her little fists clenched and tears streaming down her cheeks yelled at Abigail. “I am a princess! It’s my castle!” With Abigail yelling back, “No, you’re not! You’re not a princess!”
My husband and I have wondered about how long our children will remain in that magical state of make believe where fairies and magic are real. Our oldest daughter is seven, and she truly believes that fairies are real. She builds communities for them to visit in our backyard. She makes treasures for them. She blissfully gathers flowers for them. At some point all of our little ones will transition to skeptical teenagers and young adults, but for now, we want the magic to last for them.
So, with Abigail and Aeryn we talked about how they are not princesses of a country, but they are princesses in our family. We were visiting a palace that belonged to the King and Queen of Spain. Abigail and Aeryn both calmed down and seemed happy with that explanation. I guess Abigail had felt jealous and a little excluded. She really just wanted to be a princess, too.
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