See the world


Walking down the street in Palestine with my brother-in-law, Grace, and Whit.

It has been almost two years since the four of us went to Jerusalem to visit my sister and her family.  This, Grace and Whit’s first international trip, was a wonderful and powerful experience and it continues to echo through all four of our lives.  When we got home, I reflected on the immensely different ways that Hilary and I responded to our childhood of hopscotching back and forth across the Atlantic.  She and her husband took her three and five year old daughters to live in Israel for a year.  I have lived in the same house, in the city where I was born, for 12 years.

And yet.  Perhaps that childhood of mine, rich as it was with travel and cathedrals and museums and ski trips in Austria where I learned to speak a few German words and simultaneously striated with tearful goodbyes, acted on me in more ways than I knew.

Over the last year or two I’ve felt a new and firm desire to have adventures with Grace and Whit whenever we can.  Part of this comes from my keen consciousness of how limited the opportunities to travel together are now.  But another part of it comes from having watched Grace and Whit respond to a foreign land, culture, and language.  They soaked up more than I could have imagined in Jerusalem, and I want to make sure we continue exposing them to new places and experiences during our few breaks.  This doesn’t have to be international: last spring break we went to Washington, and the Grand Canyon is surely on my list of places I want to visit with the children.

Adventures.  New places.  Rich experiences that augment their sense of the world and their awareness of their place (important, but very far from the center!) in it.  These are what I’m after.

Last week, Grace, Whit and I somehow got on the topic of Great Pops, who has now been gone over a year.  We talked about how he had truly seen the world, and about how his life had been long and full and marvelous.  Grace remembered the Christmas card he sent the year he was 90, which featured a photo of him ziplining in Costa Rica.  And Whit recalled the photograph of him standing in front of the pyramids in Egypt that stood in his living room, as well as the picture of him skiing in front of the Matterhorn that now hangs on the wall of a bedroom in my parents’ house.

“Great Pops really saw the world, didn’t he?” Whit asked from the back seat.

Why yes, I thought.  Yes, he did.  “See the World,” by Gomez (a song I love) ran through my head.

And that’s what I want for Grace and Whit.  To see the world: not just globally, though that’s an undeniable part of it.  I want them to see their world.  In all of its majesty and multiplicity.  My childhood was extremely different from theirs, but one thing my parents did without question was show me the world.  This contributed to who I am today in ways I’m still understanding, but I know that a certain openness of outlook and orientation towards empathy resulted from the travels, adventures, and myriad experiences that made up my childhood.

I can’t wait to help Grace and Whit see the world.  There’s so much to look forward to.  I can’t wait.

19 thoughts on “See the world”

  1. We have yet to travel internationally with the girls and I am anxious to so I love your reminder that seeing the world does not need to mean international and big travel. Seeing their world is just as important. And I also have to say that I love having blogs like yours that I have read consistently for a long time… I can see in my mind the picture of your grandfather skiing. It is such a great shot that I remember it well from the first time you posted it. He sounds like such an amazing man…

  2. YES! Now, if only it were free.
    Travel ranks very high on my list of priorities – for the perspective it provides and for the shared experiences.
    It sounds like your grandfather could have written a book. Thinking of him zip lining in Costa Rica at ninety gives me hope that maybe I can see all that I want to see and do all of the things.

  3. I didn’t start to travel internationally until high school, but I was lucky to have seen most of the American states before then. I agree wholeheartedly with your message here: seeing the world can take place in one’s neighborhood or in another culture, but it’s hard to overestimate the effect of having seen a place fundamentally different from one’s own (says the woman whose children have not traveled anywhere other than to visit family since they were born – must remedy that). xo

  4. I hope to travel internationally with my family someday, but it’s hard to imagine. My kids have vastly different personalities and needs, and I have one on the autism spectrum who holds tightly to familiarity and routine. So, about five years ago, I decided I’d start taking domestic trips separately with each kid whenever possible.

    These trips have been wonderful experiences. We wait for bargains/rewards points/BOGO deals to the places they each want to go, and I go alone with the child who chose that location, while my husband stays home with the others (and usually plans fun events for them as well).

    The child dictates the travel itinerary, and I follow along as they explore whatever catches their eye and sparks their wonder. Even if I’ve traveled to one of these areas before, going with one of my kids is like seeing it for the first time, and it gives me an opportunity to appreciate each of my children for what makes him or her unique.

  5. I think about that a lot with my boys. I think if it weren’t for money, Hubs and I would be traveling monthly, if for no other reason than to just be somewhere new. Living in South Florida, and growing up in a very Hispanic community, most people around here rarely think beyond Orlando for Disney (ironic that I’m dissing that right now, considering I just came from there AND posted about it! LOL) and cruises. Every time I tell someone about our RV trips for 3 weeks or going to Paris or our plans for “living” in Hawaii in 2 summers, people are amazed: like we are these worldly hippies. It’s funny. It’s not like the places we go are that off the beaten path or particularly culturally important.

  6. I’m impressed. We have a family wedding in the upper peninsula area of Michigan this summer and I’m already anxious about getting us all there and back and surviving all that time away from home. But I’ve turned into something of an extreme homebody!

  7. I can’t wait to visit places with my kid(s) that I’ve never been myself. About six months ago, we were crazy enough to venture to New Zealand with our then-1.5 year old. It turned out to be one of the funnest (not a word but gonna use it anyway) family times EVAH. We were completely nervous about going, but it wasn’t nearly as challenging as we expected. This reminds me — where to next? We need to start planning. xox

  8. As you know I’m a homebody too, so this impulse is sort of strange and a little different – but I’m also trying to honor it!

  9. Getting to see the world, not to mention dozens of countries, with my kids was one of the pinnacle dreams. And it happened. Now, as our lives get busier and we’re on toward high school, my boys talk about wanting to return to Europe for trips. I love that they now appreciate what they were able to experience. Yes, travel and the opportunity to see everyday life with appreciation is an amazing gift to share with kids. You’re doing a fabulous job, Lindsey.

  10. The experiences your boys had when you lived in Europe are very familiar to me, and I know for a fact they’ll always prize those memories. xox

  11. What a great post…and what a great experience to open their eyes, literally to the larger world. We are sharing our ruminations on raising kids over at Great Moments in Parenting, an open blog to celebrate the agony and ecstasy of having kids. We would be honored if you would submit an essay, parenting “moment” or photo, and we are happy to link back to your site. Here’s the link to submit: Thanks so much for considering it!

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