Traveling the world with children in tow
It's our way to do everything together, because we are firm believers that children need to experience everything as active participants of our family life. If we face a random difficult situation and we can then explain it to them in a way that they can understand, they are open in accepting, understanding, and letting go of that situation, because they literally live in the present. They are our great tiny teachers. There is not one time that we can recall them complaining of anything dirty or ugly, on the contrary, they'd laugh about anything like that and about me, because I'm the one who usually does complain about anything being ugly or dirty.
They do complain sometimes, like when we're out and about for too long, or when a trip turns out to be a really long trip; and for those reasons we purchased a stroller so they can both sit (a bit squished together, but they both fit). When go on a long trip we bring along snacks and movies for their entertainment.
They always mention the names of all the people whom we love and who are far away, not because they miss them but because they know that they are part of them and even if they're far away, they're still close within them. Me, on the other hand, I do have moments of deeply and absolutely missing everyone, moments I jokingly describe as 'missing-itis' as if it were a condition that I sometimes suffer from.
Every time we get to a new place, both my kids tidy up their stuff with the feeling that that's 'home' without really caring about how small or big, nice or ugly looking the place is, they put together their world wherever they go. They've become each other's best friends in the 'whole wide world.' Often times it's just the four of us, and having each other to laugh, yell, and fight with, is priceless. Benicio helps Blas with everything, Blas is Benicio's younger sibling, and to Blas, Benicio means the world. Seeing them grow up being so close to each other, being such good friends, melts my heart and is proof that we're headed down the right path.
We always make sure to include activities they both enjoy, everywhere we go. This is everyone's trip, so we each get to choose activities that we enjoy doing, and the rest of us go along to participate of each other's activities, which many times have left one of them pleasantly surprised and happy to have accompanied the other to do what they wanted to do (because they do complain before we all go do a certain activity sometimes).
They have both made thousands of friends, their ages ranging from children to adults, they've been to thousands of temples, museums, parks, they've observed animals in their natural habitats and they've come to the understanding that if they see an animal inside a cage, that's morally wrong, and they'll tell me: "this is so wrong mom, those orangutans should be in the Bukit Lawang jungle with the rest of their friends." They don't forget the things they've seen, because they've seen them with their own eyes, nobody told them about them, nobody taught them, they've experienced them. They've fed the elephants, not a zoo keeper, they bathed the elephants, they were in awe to learn that an elephant is pregnant with their baby for two years and that the elephant mom breastfeeds her calf until the age of three; they don't forget that because they saw it in real life.
They attended different schools, they were exposed to an array of different languages, they saw how there are different beliefs and religions and how different people pray differently, they've been to the jungle, to the mountains, they've been to the riverside and the oceanside, to the city, they've been to towns and they've visited different communities, they've lived in hotels, houses, apartments, cabins, they've been guests at other people's homes, they've lived in tents. They've played with children who spoke a different language and yet they played, they learned new languages, they learned that whenever we buy something new then we must part with something old so that another child that needs it may access it, they've learned that we can't buy nor carry everything we want all the time. They've taught us that it doesn't matter where we are or what we're doing, what matters is that they're with us and that's what makes them happy. They've taught us that we're literally living in the moment, this very moment, and we don't really know what's going to happen in another moment in time, they've totally surrendered to our crazy ways, by being happy, sad, upset, smiley, simple as they are, because they're their pure selves, they're honest and transparent.
Being together 24/7 isn't easy, that's for sure, but being able to enjoy seeing them grow the way we're able to do it is something that I would never trade, we know that one day they'll be all grown up and will each have their own lives, so we treasure every moment of our life together.
Whenever someone in our family faces a new situation, we often say that 'they are facing their destiny', it's sort of a family phrase we've made up and that comes up often. So, seeing Benicio 'facing his destiny' as he learns to ride a bike without training wheels, or seeing Blas 'facing his own destiny' when he headed into a school where they spoke another language and where he couldn't understand one single word spoken to him, both experiences are an example of what life means to us, to live life going through those sort of experiences, facing the challenges, to experience life. Just the other day, my nephew Facundo published a phrase that stuck in my head: "Do it, make mistakes, try it again, fail and try again. Seriously, nothing bad will happen."
Whenever we visit a temple, we tell our children a marvelous story of a ninja or master who practiced to have his 'Chi' in that temple, whenever we visit a museum we tell them a story about an artist, whenever we visit a palace we tell them the story the kings and queens who used to live there, if we visit a mountain we talk to them about the animals who inhabit the mountain, if we visit a bamboo forest we talk about stories of Kung Fu Panda and how he practices Kung Fu in a forest like that one. They seem to remember every detail, and for that matter, they know that Kung Fu Panda is just a cartoon character, but hey, who doesn't like to include those kinds of stories too that can help light that spark in their imaginations?
So, take your children to travel the world, it really is a wonderful experience. Even if they're young, you'll be making memories for them that will last a lifetime and will forever be in their hearts.