Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Homeward and Outward Bound

Traveling with your children is the way to finally find out who they are. Travel with them in a foreign country and you get a glimpse of their future and all of your past parenting mistakes all in one.

We just returned from a 9 day trip to Italy with my daughter's choir and I think we've all changed. My daughter emerged as an almost teenager with an insatiable need for socializing. My son became incredibly flexible, tolerant and patient. My husband and I now love America and its beautiful showers more than ever before. Don't get me wrong, traveling to Europe is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that most people would give an arm and a leg to have. We are all so glad that we went and really had lots of fun in-between the group travel challenges and bad hotels.

Yet traveling to Europe with your children gives you a stark look at who your kids really are. Think they were picky eaters at home? Drop them off in Rome where the local idea of breakfast is lunch meat, cheese and pound cake. (No Cheerios here, Bella.) Does your teenager take a 30-minute shower? Just imagine that shower in a half-bathtub, in a half-bathroom with half a shower curtain and watch as the flood begins. All at once, you wish you had taken the time to introduce them to something other than bagels & cream cheese and an American shower.

Still, when things got unbelievably challenging, annoying and tiring, we found laughter to be our best friend. Suddenly the kids could joke about the fact that when the Italians said a walk was 10 minutes, that meant 30 minutes to us. (My son cleverly figured out that this time underestimation was equivalent to the exchange rate of the dollar to the Euro.) And just when I was about to throw my own temper tantrum because there wasn't a real cup of coffee to be found in all of Italy, my kids would amaze me with their openness to the strange Italian snacks and sodas from which they had to choose. We all quickly realized that we had better do "as the Romans do" if we wanted to make the most of this unbelievable travel opportunity.

All in all, we returned with incredible stories and memories that will last a lifetime. And most importantly, we came home with an appreciation of our wonderful life and home and each other.


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