I love travel! Before kids and a husband (aka responsibilities), I was always on the go. If you could find it on a map — who am I kidding? — even if you couldn’t, I was in! Since the addition of kids and a husband who hasn’t been bitten by the travel bug (yet…insert evil laugh here), I have slowed it down a bit. We still go, but on a much lower scale.
So, imagine my surprise or more accurately, pure joy, when my five-year-old daughter asked me, “Mommy, will you take me to Paris?”
“You bet I will kid!” and I begin my Ellen-style dancing down the hall to start packing our bags!
We will go and soon.
When she mentions to people that she wants to go to Paris, the typical reaction is rebuff. It seems like a big expensive trip just because a five-year-old girl asked, but I quickly come to her side and tell them that, yes, we will be going. We will have to save our money (her too!) and plan accordingly, but Paris is in her near future. Her interest and willingness to voice her desire to go has made it a priority for us.
We tell our kids often that their voice isn’t too small. It isn’t too small to voice an opinion, ask for something big or small, or pray for a need for you or others. We are deliberate in teaching them that their voice is powerful and even at their age, it can change circumstances, minds and choices. We want them to use that voice to express the things that interest them. It thrills me, when she speaks of learning about new places and people.
I want her to go, but, selfishly, I want to be the one to take her.
I want to be the one to show her that, yes, our neck of the woods is beautiful, but so are the Eiffel Tower, Edinburgh Castle and the Greek Isles. There is more to the world than our small corner and I want to be the one to open her eyes to it. I want to see her face light up in wonder when she sees something she has only dreamed of.
I want to help her to meet people who speak a different, beautiful language and teach her to be able to converse with them. How else to best learn about cultures than playing at Jardin de Luxembourg, the largest public park in Paris, with Parisian children? All the museums and restaurants do not compare to joining the locals! Kids are so good at this. They do not have the pretenses and fears that adults do. It is magical to watch children from all over the world simply jump in and play! This is an experience that is best achieved at a young age.
Daily routines are tough. The grind of school, work and birthday parties will suck you dry! We reminisce about our travels over dinner and on car rides. We may have a special seafood dinner in baskets to remind us of our beach trip! Yep, we are totally un-fancy basket eaters! We may have a French cuisine night, with crepes and French music to help us prepare for upcoming travels. It adds to the excitement, but also helps the kids begin to know what to expect.
These trips and memories allow them to trade something typical for something colorful!
I crave the memories. The kids may not remember every detail; they may not remember any of it, but the experiences will grow them. It will instill a confidence, acceptance and comfort in more than just our culture. Traveling with my children allows them to see places, people, animals and foods that bring their books to life. The world becomes their classroom.