“To journey without being changed is to be nomad; to change without journeying is to be a chameleon; to journey and be transformed by the journey is to be pilgrim.” – Mark Nepo
The picture of traveling with kids used to give me images of whining, crying, outbursts and lots of kicks at the backseat of the plane (oh that poor passenger!) Not to mention the screams of “I am tired.”, “My feet hurt really bad, we are walking for hours!” and “We are starving.”, shouts of suffering like we subjected them to the huge amounts of torture while traveling.
And yes, that look of fellow travelers, and locals in the area… The – “What are these parents thinking?”-look. And the “Some people should not be parents!”-look, joined with “Oh these poor starving, tired kids, being dragged by their parents to foreign, scary places.” – look.
Side note: We don’t like judging the people we meet on the road when our family travel but we like to judge ourselves through the eyes of these people. That is a bad habit and we are working on that.
But, yes. Traveling with kids are these images, looks and judgments. Not going to sugar-coat that. Traveling with kids is not easy. Traveling with kids is sometimes a form of torture to all family members and people surround us (especially that fellow airplane passenger.)
Yet, we are advocates of family travel. We are passionate about packing our bags times five not because it’s fun at all times (it is fun most of the time.) nor we like to torture ourselves (notice, how many times the word torture appears on this blog post!)
We like traveling with kids because of the golden moments.
Kids are pretty good at being in the moment, enjoying the moments.
Experience people, places and events in their wholeness. To be mindful of the moment. To be a child again with no worries. This is our golden take away from life’s experiences, what we always observe when we travel with our turknoy kids.
We constantly move places to evolve, to travel. Yet when we are in certain place, we let the place evolve us. Enjoying the place, the people in their wholeness, that is what makes traveling a pilgrim.
It’s so easy with kids to identify what they appreciate and what they don’t. When we take them to museums, their body languages tell us what they love to see. It doesn’t matter if it’s a famous painting or sculpture. They are not influenced by the preconceived notion or majority’s view of what is great and what is awesome. Their eyes know and seeing that spark every time they see something new for the first time, and they love it, that’s appreciating something in their wholeness.
What is not easy however, is for us, “molded” adults to let them choose and enjoy their own moments.
When all the kids didn’t like to be among the crowd who wanted to see Mona Lisa in the Louvre, Mom and Dad were like.. “Uhm, what the?! We took you to Paris and Louvre so you can see the magnificence of this painting, world-class, timeless masterpiece and.. you don’t want to wait your turn to take a picture with Mona Lisa?! Are you all kidding? (or in our mind – are you f*&%ing kidding us?!) A million kids would want to have your place and see this once in a lifetime opportunity and you want to pick your sister’s nose?! (True story!) – to which they replied: But, Mom, she has something in her nose!.. and it seems illogical at that time. And truly a waste of time and lots of euros!
These kids chose picking Kayra’s nose over oogling and admiring Mona Lisa. And when we forced them, they turned cranky and grumpy followed by a lot of whining!
That doesn’t sound like a “pilgrim” to anyone. Well, it certainly didn’t sound like a pilgrim for us then and now. Just a making a point here. No judgment, remember?
The hardest part of traveling with kids, and parenting kids, in general is when we take them to certain places where we want them to look at what we think are awesome, magnificent masterpieces and they choose to look elsewhere, to what they think are awesome, magnificent, masterpieces.
Traveling with kids doesn’t not mean they are going with the flow and itinerary of the parents. Traveling with kids, as difficult and inflexible it may sound, means five different minds and hearts each finding their moments and wanting to be transformed by the journey.
After exploring several countries, we are slowly learning to let go and have the kids enjoy their own journey leading to their own pilgrims. It didn’t even bother us when they chose hanging out with the pilots instead of looking at how great and magnificent Mount Everest peak is. We had to emphasized to ourselves that the peak of the highest mountain in the world is magnificent for us, what is awesome for the kids are the pilot and co-pilot navigating the plane. There is nothing wrong there.
Kids are pretty good at being in the moment, enjoying the moments. Moments important for them, not by dictated by anyone or anything.
That’s how kids evolve. That’s how people evolve and learn from places and experiences.
Now, our picture of traveling with kids give us images of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, images of three cheeky monkeys transforming into three awesome, strong willed adults equipped with passion and memories to change the world.
That’s an image worth the torture, uhhm….Yeah, I mean challenges when trading with kids.