Two Years of Travel, 14 Countries and I Finally Impress My Child

There’s really no point to traveling with an infant.  A toddler’s no better.  I mean, you bring them, of course, because you love them and there’s no reason to not bring your tiny offspring on an around-the-world jaunt, but they are probably the most clueless travel companions.  You bring your child to Angkor Wat and they ignore the ancient ruins looming around them, preferring to scratch around in the dust, picking out tiny pebbles and showing them to you before throwing them (yes, really).  “Yes, that’s a good one, Cole!”  We could have stayed at home and let him play in our driveway, he’d be just as happy.  You repeat the same exercise in Paris, India, Morocco, Beirut, and Thailand.  Soon you’re aware of a singular fact — there are rocks in almost every country.  You have seen them all.  You child has picked most of them up, held them close for inspection and then thrown them.  Whether he threw them into a fish pond (Thailand) or at a cow (India) or off the roof of your house (Beirut) there’s no real difference.  To Cole, we’ve been on a very long quest that — well I don’t exactly know what the point is, but it involves a lot of rocks.

Gimme rocks!

I know that he’s absorbing some of it — the language, for example — in China he was asking for milk in Mandarin and in Thailand he could say thank you in Thai.  If you put a plate of pork satay (or really any meat on a stick) in front of him, he’ll dive on it like it was cake.  But in the back of my mind, I’ve been waiting for that moment where he shows some sign of getting it — a nod to the fact that are somewhere new, not still in the same country or the same continent even.  I want him to be impressed.  In Thailand, it finally happened.  We arrived at a resort in Phuket, a splurge for us, a family friendly place with a big pool and an oversized red mushroom sprinkler in the kiddie area.  The area was full of Thai greenery, palm trees, fat ferns, overgrown and luscious because of the now ending rainy season.  Cole and I walked through the lobby, over to a covered bridge overlooking the grounds and Cole pointed.  “Oh wow, mama.”

That’s right Cole!  We’re traveling!  Isn’t it great?

He kept it up through out our first week back in Thailand, pointing to things and saying “Oh wow”.  He laughed and yelled hello to everyone as we drove around on the motorbike.  He reached for my hand when we walked into the sea, patting the water to indicate I should submerge myself.  I did and he wrapped his arms around my neck and kissed me.  He really, really loves it here.

And that’s it.  I’m closing up shop!  I can’t beat showing a two and a half-year old roti with condensed milk, Thai beaches and motorbike rides.

Cole, about to beat my high score on Bejewelled

Well, I can’t yet.  I know at some point there will come a day when he says “Why don’t you take me to Thailand anymore?” and then I will have to explain myself.  In the meantime, I just want to know what happens next.  It’s like some time on the flight from Beirut, maybe over India, he did an automatic system upgrade to Cole 2.0.  He plays puzzle games on the iPhone!  He just taught himself over the course of a few days and now he can open and close apps, pick his favorite games, slide the on/off switch, SOLVE PUZZLES AND MATCH GAMES (what?) and congratulates himself when he wins (“oh yay!”).  I’m sure this is normal, but it’s awesome to see.  He’s talking more and he’s figured out if you call Drew “Dreeeeeeewwwwww!” instead of “Daddy” he responds much faster.

The child is a genius.  It took me at least 3 years to figure out yelling Drew’s name was the way to go.  Drew still doesn’t listen to me.

You know what though, I love this age.  And yes, I’m spoiling Cole with experiences.  He’s going to be so jaded by the time he’s seven.  “Eh, Paris?  Again, mother?”  I am so screwed.  Totally worth it.

27 Comments

  1. love this and I love awakening those same moments in our 3 year old takota… next up? baby stella.

  2. Yes! Spoiling children with experiences is the only way to do it. Cool AND worthwhile.

  3. Hi I also have a 3 year old and thinking to go to Thailand, which hotel you went in Phuket?
    Thanks!
    Daniela.

  4. Such a great post Christine! It’s been so great to watch Cole grow up from when he was first born. Where does all the time go? I wish I could come to Thailand and throw rocks with you guys!

  5. Hi Christine, loved this post! I am totally for this to happen with our little toddler who will be 1 year and 4 months old at the time of our departure to South America.

    Cheers.

    José

  6. Crazy Travel Adventures by Debra

    Great for your son! And, Ha. I tried and tried to impress my nieces with my travels. I bring back tons of photos to share so they can see the world. They love the snowglobes I bring and have stopped being totally surprised at all the things that go wrong when I travel, but still no interest in actually seeing where I’ve been. Someday and I’m ready with over 5,000 photos when they are!

    • The URL to my own blog has changed and is now corrected here. Sorry for any inconvenience.

      And interestingly, I am writing a MG novel and since reading this have changed a few things about my main character who is 9 at the moment. Thanks.

  7. This is cool. Even though we are far from raising any of our own, I ponder the thought of what it must be like for a kid to grow up everywhere and admire the courage you two have for raising Cole (and the next one?) in the World. Someday I will want to download all your thoughts on this, but for now, congrats on reaching this awesome mile stone. Pun totally intended.

  8. Dyanne@TravelnLass

    So great that you can spend most every waking moment with your son. It WILL be different with two, but in so many ways, even more fascinating. To see the DIFFERENCES in your kids.

    I’m not sure about dragging babies/toddlers ’round the globe (has to be highly challenging and w/o the rewards that they’re actually taking in more than… rocks!)

    But at ages 5 & 8, and especially 8 and 11, I dragged my daughters backpacking in Mexico for the summer, and to live/go to school in France/Italy for 6 months and…

    Oh my but it was bar-none the BEST education I could ever hope to give them. The soaked up French like it was chocolate milk, and could spot the difference between a Monet and a Manet instantly!

  9. Everywhere is rock and all children are the same :-) I didn’t have to do such an extensive travel like yours to learn this. But I would have loved to :-) after all even if the kids don’t get impressed about the magnificence of a new place, we do. However for now we decided to enjoy nearby places (we travelled from Italy via Bavaria to Czech Republic and settled down in Switzerland where the eldest started Kindergarten). For next year a longer trip is planned oversea with our 3 kids of 5, 3 and 1 year.

  10. This is something that parents should do which is bringing their kids in travel. It somewhat expose your child to valuable cultural aspect. I think it widens their appreciation to accept other things wholly. Great nurtutrng!

  11. What a wonderful story! Makes parenthood worth every bit of pain and frustration, doesn’t it?

  12. Anonymous

    I traveled a lot in my youth, living in England, for three years from the age of 6 to 9 and then living in Japan from the ages of 13 to 16. I find myself lonely a lot and unable to connect with people, mostly because as a child I found myself ripped from my friends and connections to a place right as I started to get really ingrained in living in that place. Do you worry about the way that your children are going to grow up in this environment? Do you plan to settle down once your children get a little older?

  13. I love travelling. 14 countries in 2 years is great. Its very good experience for you and your child as well.

  14. I was very encouraged by this post. My hubby keeps talking about having a baby and I keep putting him off. I’m loving our life right now and am worried about what having a baby will do to our travel plans. Hubby says we’ll adapt and bring baby along. I have my doubts, but this gives me hope.

  15. This is so cute! The whole world becomes a nursery for your child. NICE!

  16. Borneo Tom

    I have found backpacks are the easiest way to travel with toddlers because they keep your hands free. Most non-USA airlines allow you to bring them into the cabin and are perfect for trans Pacific flights. They are also good for jungle trekking as a little one can stand up inside one or slink down for a snooze.

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