“It is all going to be fine in the end. If it is not yet fine, then it is not yet the end.”
– Oscar Wilde
If I had to come up with a list of all the things that worry me I would run out of time before I ran out of ideas. Due to my incessant, not to mention tiresome, drive towards perfection, I often find myself riddled with anxiety and unable to accept the notion that it will all be fine in the end. So imagine my immense trepidation when Mylene, Daphne, and myself recently embarked on our first family trip.
So many things ran through my mind. Will she cry at the airport? Will she cry in the airplane? Will she misbehave in a restaurant? What will the weather be like? Will she be cold? Or hot? Or tired? Or cranky? Will she pick up germs in public places?
I worried incessantly and drove myself into the usual black hole of anxiety. It made me a little sick, as it usually does.
So how was her very first trip at only 6 months of age? It was…pure perfection.
She sat silently as we strolled through the city, played with her toy at local restaurants, endured the time change as if nothing had happened, slept wonderfully, and smiled. She smiled in the morning, smiled in our hikes, smiled at my silly worried face, and sometimes, out of sheer pleasure, simply smiled.
She drank milk and slept for most of the flight. She broke nothing, except the seriousness of some adults that couldn’t help but smile when she passed along. She never showed distress. She was so peaceful at times that it felt as if we were traveling alone, except for her operatic arias once in a while, of course. In other words, she proved me wrong. I expected crazy and she delivered nothing but blessings. I expected a storm, but the sun shone through.
They say that children teach adults as much as we teach them…and it is so very true. Every time I looked into her eyes and witnessed her pure tranquility, even in the midst of so much chaos, she reminded me that life is and will be, regardless of expectations and speculations. Why expect the worse when you can expect the best? Think about it; the results will be the same regardless.
Traveling with children is just like any other activity. You should simply close your eyes and do it; because even when children can not understand, consciously that is, what is happening around them, you will grow and mature in the process and become better parents and better people.
We want to be one of those families that strive for unity. That means doing the uncomfortable when convenience stands there in front of you, alluring and shiny. That means taking the kids with us rather than leaving them behind with the grandparents. Leaving them behind may be convenient for us, but it does a disservice to our children.
Think about the amount of hours you spend with them every day. Taking away work, sleep, homework, and naps, what does that leave? Two or three hours? Is that all we get to bond, to impart knowledge, to help them grow into responsible young men and women that are neither bombastic nor obsessed with materialism? You should mine extra hours as if they were golden nuggets. Taking your children on trips is a resounding message to them that they matter.
So what if they throw a tantrum, or break something, or slow you down. It all pales in comparison to the exponential growth that you will all achieve together, as a family. Think about all the dreams you will foster, all the ideas you will implant, when you teach them that the world is not so scary, that there is warmth and kindness out there. If you want ingenuity and creativity out of your children then you must shed your fears and insecurities and simply bring them along. If you were brave enough to bring them forth, shouldn’t you be brave enough to throw open the curtain and show them the world?
The fact that Daphne will witness everything that makes the world a wonderful place during the most impressionable years of her existence excites me to no end. All the languages she will be exposed to; the struggles she will witness; the museums and galleries she will see. It is all mind-boggling and the very best that we, as parents, can provide for her…besides love, of course.
I can’t wait to take our daughter to the Taj Mahal, to hike with her in the Alps, to swim with her in Capri, to witness the grandeur of Everest and her face beaming with astonishment; even if the future brings financial instability and I can provide neither great museums nor great mountain ranges, then I can’t wait to show her a cardinal, a rose, a poem. Giving children the best is not about quantity, it is about simplicity. Nature is the best teacher of all.
Remember that we are the mirror through which our children see themselves. If they see us yearning for trinkets from Pandora, or obsessed with the newest phone, or cursing in frustration as life throws an eventual curve ball, then they will do precisely the same. Do not ask your children to do unlike yourselves. What happens when they see us confronting and overcoming, admiring nature and art, struggling to communicate through a language not our own, lost but always found? Well, they’ll grow to be dynamic, adaptable, adventurous adults that you will be proud of beyond belief. They’ll become what you always wanted to be but couldn’t. Maybe because of means. Maybe because of fear. Isn’t that what every parent wants?
So you may be wondering, what did we learn in our very first trip with an infant? To prepare but not to fret. To pay attention to their body language and to push them to the edge, but no further. That feeding and sleeping are the golden arches through which tranquility strolls. To be brave, to stop fearing, and to just do it!