Last weekend I was invited to a neighborhood BBQ. It was a beautiful, warm Saturday evening, which is not always the case in this north German clime. With cold beers in hand, we chatted about the usual end-of-school-year topic: summer holiday destinations.
During this conversation I was surprised to learn that most of the other fellow parents at the BBQ 17-year-olds have chosen not to vacation with them anymore. Party jaunts to Spain with other teens are far more appealing than week-long trips with the parents.
This is the beginning of the end of family excursions. Most of the parents took this as a welcome relief. I didn’t.
Just the thought of planning a vacation without my kids leaves me empty, something akin to going on a road trip and forgetting to pack the bags.
My husband, Joerg, and I still cherish the time we have to travel as a family. I’ve enjoyed learning along side my children and viewing the world from their perspective. We value the opportunities to expose our children to the world of well-known art museums, famous landmarks, musical theater, craggy mountaintops, influential world capitals, and other places where history was made and were wars won and lost.
We’ve taught our children that vacationing isn’t all about Disneyland and amusement parks, although we definitely try to mix the fun into the adventure. For us, traveling is about discovering other cultures and history.
A few years ago we did a city tour of Detroit, MI. As part of the learning experience, decided to show them the run-down, abandoned factories that once made Detroit the richest city in America.
We walked down once wealthy and middle class neighborhoods that now are like ghost towns, decrepit and crime-ridden. The point demonstrated that when industry fails, so does a whole society. This was once America at its best, now at its worse. How can a city recover? Where do the people go?
The lesson conveyed is that we cannot take our lifestyle, as we know it today, for granted.
We have to be aware that every action has an outcome. We are responsible for our environment and even making a decision to buy a foreign or domestically produced car has an effect on many people.
We are raising global children. I feel obliged to educate them in ways textbooks cannot. My children will be the future decision makers of this world. I want to teach them well.
Don’t misread me. Last year we soaked up the sun at a beach resort in Greece for two weeks. Our kids, however, are accustomed to our desire to delve deeper into the cultural treasures that lie beyond the eye of the tourist.
On a scorching hot day on the island of Crete, while most of the Scandinavian tourists baked on the beach, we ventured out to a local winery and olive oil factory. Not surprisingly we were the only visitors. (Who else would stuff their kids in an oven-hot rental car to tour around the island?)
On our tour, we learned that here is at least one olive tree still living that has been around since the days of Jesus Christ. That fact alone was worth roasting in the heat.
Although our kids don’t ask many questions, they’ve learned to act interested.
Do our children get bored and whiney? Yes, it is part of the package. I know that they will appreciate it and we are making life-long memories. I don’t want these days to end any time soon.
I have to be realistic. Next year when our daughter turns 18, she’ll most likely want to do her own thing. I’ll have to accept it, let her expand her wings, and fly the coop.
My intention is to instill a good mix of curiosity, adventure, and education into our family vacations, providing, as it were, a front row seat to the real world. My hope is that it will influence future generations to come.
Have a great summer.
Over To You
Do you have a favorite family holiday memory? Please share it. I’d love to hear your story.