Since their birth, our children have endured and “helped with” whatever is on the schedule for my husband and myself on any given day, including, but not limited to tax appointments, city council meetings, construction demolition, political rallies, and an assortment of board meetings. Their understanding of these processes is not complete, but certainly their exposure has led to conversations about a range of topics; it has formed who they are and who they are becoming. They are inquisitive and thoughtful, curious and confused. They understand that some parts of life are fun, while others are simply necessary.
Similarly, we have taken them on (almost) every trip with us since they were born, spanning the globe and increasing their ability to: sit on a plane, wait in line, try new foods, and most importantly, see with their own eyes. People ask,”why take them somewhere they won’t even remember?” Children don’t remember doing many things (being breastfed, being rocked, being held, learning to walk) but we do those things because it impacts their perception and development. It’s cumulative.
We read to very young children because it encourages an appreciation for books, increases language and listening skills, and sets the stage for learning to read. Likewise, exposure to unique experiences with culture, food, language, and varying religious traditions will permeate their developing minds in a way that we have chosen to encourage and foster. Seeing the world from outside our neighborhood, our state, or our country, is always a changing experience. It is hard to un-see new and different architecture, to ignore the pink and turquoise buildings of Puerto Rico. It will be a long time before they forget the 3 a.m. bus ride (in the wrong direction) through London. And I will never forget the look in their eyes when realizing the person we just saw, would be sleeping on that piece of cardboard all night.
My children enjoy waterslides and ice cream and beaches and amusement park rides. But as the person responsible for their development, I also want them to fully see the world, and I want to be there when they witness society’s less beautiful truths-from rude people at a meeting to homelessness. I want to answer tough questions and show them beauty and let them know it is all part of this amazing life.