so when we were planning our trip to greece, we asked adam's colleague and our friend, ed, if he had any advice. since ed is half greek, we thought he might have some tips about how to get around with a baby and a stroller there, as we were contemplating not bringing the stroller and just keeping gracie in the sling the whole time. (boy am i glad we didn't do that!!! too hot and she's really heavy!)
ed said to us, "don't worry about it! someone will help you with the stroller if you need a hand! the greeks LOVE babies!"
good to know, but at the same time i was thinking to myself, "really? who DOESN'T love babies?" whatever, ed.
but OMG he is RIGHT!!! the greeks freaking LOVE babies! i mean, americans love babies, and the dutch love babies, but they seem to love babies from a distance. they smile at babies, and wave at them, and maybe make a goofy face or two. but that's about it.
the greeks on the other hand, will come right up to a baby and (without permission from the parents) tickle her toes, whistle at her to get her attention, pinch her cheeks, kiss her hands, ask if they can hold her (yes, even the cleaning ladies at our hotel in athens held out their arms in the universal-language of "can i hold her?"). it's so wonderful! it's like my baby is their baby! they all want a piece of gracie, they all want her to see them and smile at them! they all rejoice in my child, just by being near her!
i really got a sense of this when i was on the train from the airport into athens. like, right away, my first hour in greece, and i already knew how much the greeks love babies. EVERYONE on the train made sure to see gracie. and if you were sitting next to someone who hadn't seen gracie, you would poke that person and point to gracie so that the two of you could enjoy her together. and if you were sitting next to someone who already had seen gracie, you'd poke them again and laugh together, just in case the other person might have missed it the first time around.
walking down the street, sitting on the subway, relaxing on the beach -- it didn't matter where we were, people always wanted to touch gracie and get her to smile! i remember when we were on the ferry boat to mykonos, there were these two children all dressed up as if they were going to a wedding or something. the boy must have been maybe 4, and the girl was probably almost 2. and they could not get enough of gracie, and it was driving them CRAZY that there was a baby there that they couldn't touch! so i got down to their level and held gracie out to them so that they could hug and kiss her, and they just about exploded they were so happy! these gestures are obviously taught to them at a very young age!
it never bothered me one bit that the greeks wanted to touch my child. because they were all touching her with LOVE. they all blessed her with their warm, loving, happy energy every time their hands came in contact with her chubby legs or rosy cheeks. and gracie, of course, was in hog heaven with all the attention and snuggling and smiling faces around her!
the greeks just LOVE LOVE LOVE babies!