“Do not follow where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Prior to being bitten by travel bugs, our family are advocates of customized education even when our kids were attending their early years of ‘education” in schools. We believe that every individual is unique and every kid has their own preference and phase of learning depending on their inherent talents and capabilities. We believe it so strongly that we even think it is commonsensical. Think evening gown, tailor made vs. store bought. Kind of obvious, right?
However, the Turknoy parents were educated in a traditional fashion. Our minds were molded to have the mindset that if we enroll our kids to the best school available, then we are doing what every parents should do. That we are good parents.
And we wanted to be good parents.
We paid exorbitant amount of tuitions for several school terms. Imagine this, one school term for one kid is equivalent to one parent’s lifetime education, including the graduate school, in our home countries. No worries, we used to say. We are trying our best to be good parents.
We picked up and dropped our school diligently to school, on time, every day. We got off work to attend parent-teacher meetings to discuss about the school curriculum which our kids probably learned at home already. We wanted to good parents.
We required our kids to do their tons of homework (starting at age 3!) and nagged the kids about studying hard and forced the kids to learn something they didn’t want to know, that some of them are not yet capable of learning, because of standard curriculum and have-to learning milestones. We wanted to be good parents.
We accepted explanations and letter of apologies from kid bullies who punched our natural-born leader kiddos so they can conform to the kids’ standards of friendship and compliance. We wanted to be good parents.
Settling into the routine of wanting to good parents, we booked a holiday, because that’s what some good parents do. They take their kids to holiday adventures. On a school term break, of course!
We travel with three kids in tow to France and Italy. Our first two countries to explore together. Awesome magic happened. Imagine how they describe that first kiss, that first love? Multiply that by five thousand! That’s how the parents felt when they see the kids mingling with fellow tourists, talking to locals, enjoying the magnificent sceneries and landscapes, enjoying the art, the culture, the architecture of these fabulous countries.
Things did not go to plan. We experienced being left behind by trains, we cancelled hotel bookings, we made impossible hotel re-bookings, we got lost, a lot of times, took the wrong train a lot of times, almost starved to death (using the kids’ words), a lot of times.. and we observed how the kids were more than just going along with the flow. They were discussing and making decisions with us. Yes, there are a lot of whining and complaining, but sorting things out with all family members, despite the helplessness of the situations, those moments are the eureka moments for us! We wanted to travel more together.
We wanted to travel more together so the parents can witness the shine and joy in the kids eyes every time they see something new for the first time. Every time they contribute to the travel decisions and get to say “See, Mom and Dad that was a nice call. Aren’t you glad we got down on this metro stop? ”
We wanted to travel more together so the kids can witness the shine and joy in their parents eyes every time they see their dreams realized. “Wow, Mommy, you are teary-eyed. How long have you wanted to see the Eiffel Tower? And then attempted to answer without sobbing too much… “All my life, babies. All my life.” We didn’t need to tell them that dreams do come true. We showed them what reactions we had when dreams do come true.
We wanted to travel more together so we can share more awkward moments, like that time when we almost got thrown out of the hotel because of the noise the kids made and their parents handled that really diplomatically with the hotel receptionist. (At least, when in front of the kids!)
We wanted to travel more together so we can share more scary moments like that time when our baby almost got left behind in the airport (true story!) and survive to tell it!
All those moments, moody, grumpy, scary, fun!
Mum, remember that time when we were in Paris on top of the Eiffel Tower?… “ Of course, darling, I do remember, vividly.
And the great part is, we will hear that kind of phrase for a long time since the kids started traveling now that they are still young.
We wanted to be good parents. We wanted to travel more together. You know that decision tree, when you are face with gain-gain choices, we choose the gain that feels right.
Traveling together feels right for our family. We took the kids out of school, stopped paying tuition fees, stopped waking up wee hours every school day, stopped stressing out the kids to finish their homework, said good byes to bullies and started enrollment to airline mileage points.
Baby steps. To a path with not so much trail.