It’s been three weeks since we left our house and hit the road for our summer adventure. And while I think it’s safe say we are all longing for our own beds and our own kitchen, it’s also safe to say that we are travelers. Deep down. On the road we are in our element. Even our nearly 3-year-old who doesn’t care much for sleeping in the car seems excited to go to every rest stop, every gas station, every new place with new faces. Unless the toilets in the bathroom have automatic flush, in which case she will scream with a terror normally reserved for people being tortured.
There will, inevitably, come a time when she has a stronger concept of time and a stronger sense of self and tears will flow when we leave her far flung family and friends for yet another year of distance. But for now she is like a zen Buddhist monk who accepts every change with grace and smiles at every new opportunity despite what we leave behind. Her example, for me at least, makes saying sad goodbyes a little less sad.
Sometimes people ask me if I think all this travel and transition is hard on her. From country to country, family to family, state to state. But I don’t think so. Like all things in parenting, I can’t be sure. But while she may never quite know where we are headed (“We are flying to ‘Pan. We are driving to Denber.”) she always seems comfortable and confident, and she still young enough to see us as all knowing, all powerful and she trusts. Trusts us. Trusts it all.
Sometimes people ask me if I think all these trips and this travel is wasted on her, since she is too young to form memories of a Shinto shrine or a Manitoban prairie sunset or the majesty of the Rocky Mountains. But I don’t think it’s wasted on her because she has a sense of adventure, she knows that we value travel, she has pictures to prove she was there and they will hopefully inspire her to keep moving, keep going, keep trying new things/places/people. And I know it’s not lost on US, the parents of the child who, believe it or not, are still fully formed adult humans who love travel and want to see things even if our kid won’t remember it. We do it for us, which is actually doing it for her, because when we tell her later about how having her changed things we can say “It changed us completely, but we kept doing the things we enjoyed. We were so much the same and totally different.” And maybe tat small, silly example can tell her that we all exist in a contradiction and to try otherwise is futile.