Will They Remember It?
After the usual questions and comments about how different “this” place is from New York City and after the “where have you been / where are you headed” discussion, conversations with strangers often include a question about whether we think our boys will remember “it”? When people ask me this question, I often don’t know exactly what they are asking. Are they asking whether my kids will remember that we came to Australia? That we traveled in a tent? This town? This rock?
I have no doubt that they will remember something about our journey in Australia, but beyond that I don’t know. In fact, the question ignites a bit of an existential question in me about how do we ever know if we will remember a moment. Will I remember it? Will they? But alas this question is probably not intended to start such a discussion as we stand next to our sites in the caravan park chatting.
This isn’t a question I began the journey thinking about, but I have tried to make myself consider it given the frequency that we have been asked. It came into sharper focus the other day when I was asked about it twice in one day and then I read this article about a family traveling through Europe with young kids. I was taken aback when reading the comments with the ire with which people expressed that the children will not remember “it”. (I realize that reading the comments was my first mistake…)
So I will say now that I have zero concern about whether my boys will remember a particular location on this trip. I have never traveled for the memories, I travel for the experience. I didn’t bring them on this journey to help them memorize a snapshot in their mind of various sightseeing locations.
I have hoped to share something different with them on this journey. I wanted to share a love of nature. My hope was that my city boys could learn to play freely and comfortably in nature, the same way they would confidently captain their scooter down a crowded urban block.
My hope was to teach my boys that it was ok to be unsure and not to know. As they have watched Jay and I both stumble and succeed in so many new endeavors, my goal was to share the thrill of the unknown and to teach them it is ok to learn as you go and try new things. Sometimes it leads to amazing experiences and sometimes it leads to a terribly burned dinner, but it is ok to try.
I wanted to teach them that big changes are scary, but good especially when things aren’t working. And it’s ok to change again as we figure out what works better.
And lastly, I wanted to spend time as a family. Not to show them and teach them, but to learn from them and with them and to share and to enjoy together. We never know what the future will bring, but we have choices we can make now.
So I don’t worry about whether they will remember this place or that – we have plenty of pictures. And I also believe that many of these lessons will be imprinted on them as they grow as they have on us. I deeply believe that we have all learned lessons that will unfold from this journey for years to come in ways we can’t plan or anticipate. And that’s what makes it an adventure.