TRAVEL BROADENS THE MIND. IT ENRICHES YOUR SOUL. IT TEACHES YOU PERSPECTIVE. AND IF YOU DO IT WITH KIDS IT DRIVES YOU INSANE.
As ‘good’ parents (and by good parents I mean “we have survived so far and so have they”) we have sought to expose our twins to the wonders of other cultures. To marvel at the sights. So it will come as no surprise to any parent that during our recent trip to Fiji – an island paradise full of activities and exotic scenery – the most excited our kids got was when they saw the Golden Arches of McDonalds.
True story. During our time there we went to mud pools, tribal dancing, watched walking on coals, visited an amazing garden, petted animals, went out on a boat and even spent a day in the world’s largest inflatable water park. So what were their favourite parts of the trip? Swimming in the pool and playing mini-golf respectively. And yes, we live on the Gold Coast – the mini-golf capital of Australia where you can swim nearly any day of the year.
Much like when they were smaller and the box was more fascinating than the present, sometimes the scenic spectacle is lost on children.
Me: “Behold the stunning Grand Canyon!” Twin 1: “Daddy, can we have an ice cream?” Me: “Maybe later, honey – look at this incredible place. Did you know that tiny river down there eroded all this and made this huge canyon?” Twin 1: “Can I have a chocolate chip ice cream this time?” Twin 2: “How far away is that McDonalds?”
Last cruise we signed up for all these adventures – zorbing, glass-bottom boat coral tour, water music, dancing, and a kids’ tour. And they didn’t want to do any of them. Unlike the previous cruise they wanted to stay in Kids Club (don’t even start me on the consistency of children). All the time. They resented me picking them up “early” at 8.30pm. They would have slept there if they could have.
But it’s not all bad. Even though they’re not always seeing things the way we do or even appreciating what is, to our eyes, an exciting adventure, they are learning important lessons even if it’s just osmotically. When we were at Pentecost Island recently a lady made a rather poor comment that focused on the colour of an islander’s skin.
Gypsy very loudly asked, “What difference does the skin colour make, Daddy?” I proudly – and just as loudly – replied, “Absolutely nothing, honey”. At the end of the day that’s a more important lesson than the fact the tuatara has three eyes.
But I still believe travel is important and now we have a globe so they’re building up a mental map of the places they’ve been. They know the locations of the eleven countries they’ve visited so far.
And, of course, where all the McDonalds are in those countries.