Why We Choose TravelPosted on Jun 9, 2011 | 6 comments
When our daughter Maggie turned about a year old we bought her a playhouse. Nothing spectacular, just one of those plastic models with the drop-down kitchen table and few buttons and knobs here and there.
As she started walking, exploring the house became part of her daily routine. Days were spent opening and closing shutters, playing peek-a-boo and constantly checking to see if her oven had created anything new and tasty for her to share with us.
A few years later, Maggie was 3 and she had managed to turn her playhouse into town's first 4-star restaurant. 7 days a week she shelled out plastic carrots and rubber tacos and her mom and I ate until we simply couldn't fake another bite. She was magic in the kitchen. Her dolls and stuffed animals were well fed, her neighborhood friends became frequent patrons, and life in our tiny backyard was pretty sweet.
A year or so later, the Casa de la Zanahoria Plastico was forced to close its doors. The local patrons, stuffed animals and even the renowned chef had left the place deserted. The once grand house of imagination had returned to it's original form: A simple, poorly-made, plastic toy. Maggie is now only interested in climbing on the roof of her old restaurant and seeing how far she could jump from the roof's edge.
A few days after Maggie's 5th birthday I took the playhouse out to the trash. It was a mess - all covered in mold and tree sap. None of us ever thought twice about getting rid of it. It was time for all of us to move on.
I will always remember distinctly when Maggie first got up on the roof of that playhouse. I was miserable on that day. We had just come back from a short vacation and I was all pissy about having to return to work and set my alarm - the reality of the 9 to 5 was really starting to sting. I was pacing and kicking stones in angst. Then I spotted Maggie sitting on the roof of that house.
As far as I know, Maggie is a softy. She's cautious. Careful. And yet, there she is, and now she's standing on the roof. She's 5 feet off the ground and I can see now that she's gonna jump.
Before I can say anything, or even make a motion in her direction, she's airborne and I'm left frozen - offering nothing but a nervous smile. Maggie lands, her knees find the wood chips and she grimaces. She gets up slowly, wipes the dirt and chips from her knees, and heads back to the playhouse for more. All is well.
It's pretty cool how kids find ways to challenge themselves. How they learn something new, love it intensely, and then one day swap it for something else. I'm not sure we adults possess the same capacity for learning. We often get stuck, bogged down - we get old and settle. We stop.
For the sake of my kids, I just never want this to happen.
Why We Choose Travel
There are many reasons why we choose to travel. Of course we want to see the world, try new foods, meet new people and spend more time with our children - that's what family travel is all about. But for us there is a greater reason still.
When Maggie was born we were in the middle of trying to flip a house. While she laid there asleep in her car seat, we were sanding and painting and sanding and painting. We didn't know any better, we were just trying to make a living. But I don't think it's something we ever really wanted to do and eventually we wound up developing a contempt for the whole process. It didn't matter if it had to do with paying the mortgage, pulling weeds or shopping at IKEA - we just really grew to hate all of it. It became an endless, unfulfilling waste of time. And despite this, when Maggie's first birthday rolled around, what did I suggest we get her for a gift?
A FREAKIN' HOUSE!
Now you try and make some sense of that.
You see, it's all about your environment. The majority of us gravitate to what surrounds us. We become part of our environment. We bought a house for Maggie because that's just what people around us do. In our neighborhood people buy houses, drive SUV's, and start saving for college when their kids are born. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that, but sometimes it feels like you don't have a choice, especially if you're a kid. Maggie would have loved anything we gave her. She would have loved anywhere we took her. It was never about the plastic house, it was about us.
Tell Me Something
Why are there so many houses with 4 bathrooms? Who possibly needs 4 bathrooms? Wal-Mart doesn't even have 4 bathrooms.
Why does nearly every suburban, American tot start playing soccer?
Why is a white, picket fence so cute and alluring?
I know we have a choice to not buy into the idyllic draw of these things, but it sure seems like a battle sometimes.
Say we lived in Korea? India? Panama?
You think picket fences rate as high on the cuteness scale in these places?
As parents, we want our kids to have a choice. And without hesitation, we believe that travel, as much as anything, affords them choice.
We choose to travel so we can create our own environment. We choose to wander so that we can get a little slice of everything and give our children the opportunity to choose for themselves who it is that they want to be.
Watching Maggie in those early years taught us one thing:
KIDS ARE BRAVE AND CURIOUS CREATURES IF WE ALLOW THEM TO BE.
They will absorb all that they see. They will find their own playhouses. They will jump when they are ready.
All we have to do is guide them and make sure they have some choice.
Enjoy This Post? Stay Connected With Us.