Today is Bring Your Child to Work Day, so a group of us are writing about what it’s like to travel with our spawn. This is my take on it and at the bottom of this post I’ve linked to everyone else’s story, so just click, click around.
“You are so brave to be traveling with your child,” she said from the table next to us.
This was two days ago. We were in Athens, Greece enjoying unbelievably sweet organic oranges for breakfast at our hotel. I tried to be diplomatic, “Actually, I think it’s easier to travel when they are little, you can just pick them up and go.” She raised an eyebrow in interest, as if to say, “oh really!”
What I really wanted to say was, “Lady, we just came from INDIA. If you think it’s brave to travel in Greece, where I can drink water OUT OF THE FAUCET and cars will stop on the street and not hit me and there are not cattle anywhere to be seen in the city, then I have news for you.”
Obviously, I’m still adjusting to life back in Europe after six months in Asia.
Meanwhile, Cole doesn’t notice any of this. He sits on my lap, like he does every morning at breakfast. I hold him in my left arm and eat with the right. I share my eggs, my bread and pieces of orange with him. He picks food off my plate delicately. We’ve never used a high chair and he doesn’t throw food on the floor or clear off the table. When he’s thirsty he screeches at me (his toddler way of saying “give me”) and I help him drink water from a glass.
After breakfast we walk around Greece, with me carrying Cole on my hip. He wriggles free to get down and I sit with him as he climbs up and down some stairs. Mid-morning we go back to the hotel and begin our ritual. He’s impatient, but he knows what I’m doing so he waits docilely as I lay him on the bed, take off his shoes, take off my top and then feed him. He falls asleep.
In the afternoon we order a big lunch. We discover more unexpected foods that Cole loves: stuffed grape leaves, fat greek olives, baked feta cheese and octopus in a white wine sauce. The old man clearing off our table clucks at Cole. Cole waves him off, now just old enough to dislike the attention from strangers. We work in the hotel room. Cole runs around the room, barefoot, playing with his small collection of toys: a mp3 player, a stuffed animal camel from Mongolia, anther from Dubai, a bongo from India, a blue Ukelele made in China and a few dozen plastic animals, buckets and shovels. He picks pieces of apple off the plate we leave out for him and when he’s ready to take a nap he starts fussing, mimes to be picked up, and when I do he arches his back and rolls onto the bed — or he just cries at me until I figure it out.
While he sleeps, I write. In perfect silence, except my typing. His naps are peppered with the clack, clack, clack of my keyboard.
To him, there probably is no difference between traveling and being home. I recently added up his total travel since birth: 4 continents, 8 countries, over 30,000 miles and 21 flights. That sounds impressive and worldly, but the reality is more tame. It’s less international jetsetter and more naps and snuggles with mom. Even when there are twenty exotic asian fruits available, he still loves apples and bananas best.
However, I have noticed little things. He’s become a better traveler. He can sit on my lap in a car for 12 hours. He’s calm and accepting when it’s a travel day, in a way that he isn’t usually (he’s impatient if he has to wait more than 10 seconds for me to get my shoes on and follow him out the door). It’s like he knows about these intermittent disturbances in the routines and accepts them. It’s the way it’s always been for him since we left the US when he was four months old.
He’s not bothered by loud noises. He doesn’t startle from car honking or fireworks. He can sleep through club music, a blaring TV or the lights on. He has learned things from the locals that we didn’t teach him, like to kiss at dogs (India), to head butt (Bali), and to talk on the phone (India). He smiles at everyone.
I love traveling with him. I hope he continues to enjoy it. It’s our life now.
Did you know there are tons and tons of families that travel with their kids? Some have little ones like us and others are traveling with teens — and everything in between. Here are some real life stories about what it’s like to travel with your kids (all posted today for Take Your Kid to Work Day):
- Wandermom: Highs and Lows of Traveling with a Teen and a Tween
- The Dropout Diaries: Attack of the Asian Baby Snatchers
- Around the World in Easy Ways: The Age of Perfection
- Tripping Mom: What It’s Like to Travel with a 3-year-old Girl
- Globetrotting Mama: Take Your Child to Work
- Snaps and Blabs: Traveling with children – which one to leave home?
- Our Travel Lifestyle: Long Term Travel with Kids Under 6
- Travels with a Nine Year Old: Travels with a Ten Year Old
- Wandering Educators: Why We Love Traveling with our Daughter
- Rider by my Side: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Traveling Around the World With a 5-Year-Old