Saturday, March 24, 2012

What kids (and you) learn from traveling

What your kids (and you) learn from traveling:
  • A lot of things you see on tv and read in books are real. 
  • Wright Brothers Monument, Kitty Hawk, North Carolina
    •  When my son sees the Golden Gate Bridge in Monsters vs. Aliens, he knows it is real.  He walked across it.  When we watch Dolphin Tale, we have a point of reference because we have been to oceanside aquariums.  The Wright Brothers really existed.  My son stood where their plane flew for the first time. 

  • The world is accessible
  • Cara and Cameron at the entrance to ChinaTown, San Francisco
    • Taking city busses all over San Franciso. Walking all over downtown Toronto.  Navigating plane changes on the way to Disney World.  The world is a big place.  But with some skills, it is largely and marvelously accessible. 

  • You learn about each other and have time to enjoy each other.
    Cameron pretending to hold up the Epcot sphere
    • While standing in line for water slides last month at Kalahari in Sandusky, Ohio, I got caught up with my 15-year-old's life.  I listened; she talked.  It was a mother's dream.  A nice lengthy stream-of-consciousness kind of discussion that would have never happened at home.
    • One of my ring tones is a recording of my son Cameron giggling hysterically.  We were in line at Epcot, having a great day, and my husband had been making him laugh.  He had been laughing so much that he no longer needed a reason.  We were all laughing at the sound of him laughing.  When I hear that ring tone, I feel the pleasure again of time spent together.   

  •  Everyone's life is not as peachy as your own.  
    • When my daughter stepped over the feet of a man passed out on the sidewalk at nine in the morning in the Haight in San Francisco, she saw a different reality from her own.  In Chicago when we explained to our son why they guy standing in the road asking for money was tremoring so badly, he cried.    Bad things that happen to people do not only happen on the news or on tv.  They are real. These are important emotions for developing empathy and gratitude.   Middle class America is a terrific place to be.  But it isn't everyone's reality.

  • Home is always a nice place to come home to.
    • Despite how wonderful a trip was, everyone sleeps better in their own bed.  Whether a child misses their dog or their toys, looking forward to being home breeds gratitude.  A long drive helps bridge the gap from the fantasy world of vacation to the comfort of home.  Of course no one wants to leave the beach, but whether you drive home from the beach or home from the airport, arriving home is a comfort.  Being stuck in the car helps you transition from the wonder of the trip to the good feeling of walking in your door.

  • A sense of adventure
  • Warren Dunes, Michigan
    • Riding boats, mastering a snorkel, walking through cities, climbing up an enormous sand dune, hiking unfamiliar trails, deciding what bus to take, picking a museum.   One's sense of control is altered on vacation.  Enjoying adventure requires a tolerance for the unknown and a sense of "it'll be fine" and "I can do this."  Life can be unexpected.  Traveling can be like practicing for the unexpected.   Practicing for life.