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.

11 Comments on “Will They Remember It?

  1. Well said and the “right” answer! Can’t wait to see you all Ardis

    Sent from my iPad



  2. These posts and this blog are (literally) the highlight of the work day….great perspective (yet again). See you soon


  3. We agree – it’s primarily about collecting a bunch of memories. It’s about building skills and relationships.

    Do people remember much about school?


  4. You are outstanding parents. You children will be brilliant all of their lives because of who you are and your teaching them to be who they are!


  5. I have only recently come across your blog and have enjoyed what I have managed to read. We spent a year in the UK with my three children about the same age as yours 8 years ago. I completely agree, while they may not remember the specific monuments, buildings or sites the love of travel, the immersion of cultures and difference can only make them a more rounded person.


  6. Your kids will have life competencies that will carry them through any challenge, and the example of seeking challenges as well. What a grand gift you have given.


  7. As to whether they remember, I’m sure some parts will be and are likely to be different for each of the boys for different reasons .. My dad took us travelling when I was three till the age of ten …
    Guess I’m a lucky one that there is quite a lot of it I remember about places / family happenings etc etc that my dad and brothers didnt …
    Though a lot of the memories are random in the time line of our travels .. Think of it like bits of a jigsaw puzzle that are scattered that you slowly piece together with the help of family and friends over time .


  8. We used to get asked that question all of the time when we did a similar trip, and our boy was only 15 months when we left. We weren’t expecting him to remember any of it, but we were hoping he would get a love for nature and passion for travelling. We now live in a city in Australia and he is 5, and although he doesnt remember details of the trip, he knows he has been all around Australia and he just loves it when we pack the camper trailer up and head into the bush.


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