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I listened to this Art of Simple podcast last week while cleaning the kitchen. Tsh interviewed Stephanie Langford, who traveled around the world with her husband and four children the past year. Tsh is going to do the same with her family soon. It really got me thinking about the resilience of children and how I am parenting.
The idea of taking my three children on a plane is simply horrific to me. I have fierce memories of flying by myself with Libbie when she was a toddler and crying because the last straw was her spilling water all over my iPod. Despite my declarations that I WOULD NEVER DO IT AGAIN, at one point I flew with Libbie AND David to Pennsylvania so we could visit my parents. Someone in the airport took pity on me and carried one of their carseats for me.
And frankly, the idea of taking kids overseas seems frightening and exhausting. Won’t they whine the whole time? Won’t they miss routine? Won’t you want to kill them as they ask for a PBJ when you’re in a French cafe?
What Tsh and Stephanie pointed out is that we forget how resilient children are. I find that most of the time I worry over making changes in my head until it nearly drives me insane. I even fretted this week over my decision to have dinner at home one night instead of at the dining hall. Would Libbie refuse to eat? Would she throw a hissy fit? Of course not. She was fine. She asked the next night if we could eat at home again.
I think if I cut back my children’s TV time or turn it off completely, they will be laying on the floor throwing all-out tantrums. Are they? They might protest for a minute, but soon thereafter they are back in their bedrooms playing “Lamby and Bunny” with stuffed animals.
And what it seems to boil down to for me is that I am afraid of my own children. I let my assumptions about their feelings control my actions – to the point of inhibiting the way I feel I should parent at times. When really it’s more about me. Am I scared of their reactions … or too lazy to make a difference in how I am planning our days?
I desperately don’t want to be scared of my kids. I absolutely want to take fun trips with them and introduce them to new places without going through the mental “is it worth it?” checklist. Sure, traveling with children isn’t the easiest thing in the world. But seeing the world is priceless. Exploring it with open arms, as only kids can do, is amazing. I can’t image the stories Tsh and Stephanie’s kids will have to tell and the memories they will embrace.
So whether it’s deciding to turn off media during certain hours of the day or planning a future trip to Europe … I’m trying to choose brave.