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Our daughters start back to school this week, so it is a logical time to look back at the way we chose to spend this summer. But in truth, that isn’t the full reason why I am doing a mental review of how we did giving our daughters three months worth of memories and experiences. With the events going on in our own country as we speak, I can’t help but wonder how many of the 20-something year olds we see close-ups of on the news and social media spent their childhoods. Adults obviously make their own choices, but I believe that children are born as relatively blank slates, and much of what shapes them comes from experiences, good and bad. A 20-something is an adult, but also isn’t that removed from the childhood that helped shape them.
Given all of that, I’ve been wondering if I am shaping children in a way that will help them become loving, accepting, courageous, curious, brave, strong, and fulfilled members of society. My daughters are only 7 and 2, so we haven’t yet delved into some of the more serious type of trips I hope to take at some point where we will hopefully literally get our hands dirty helping others and learning about the different styles of life around the world, but my oldest daughter is certainly old enough that what we do and don’t do, say and don’t say, has an impact. I hope that it is the right impact.
With that said, my mental (and written) ‘summer in review’ isn’t as light and carefree as it might have been under a light of different current events, but it is still an enjoyable look-back and important task to see how you did, and how you can do even better next year.
Some of our adventures centered around encouraging our oldest daughter to take some physical leaps, both literally and figuratively. Some of these may look like first-world resort activities, and they largely were, but she was legitimately scared to ride a bike without training wheels until we found the perfectly sloped grassy hill at Hyatt Hill Country.
Her trail ride at Hyatt Lost Pines was also not as calm and idyllic as it might seem from the photo below as her horse took off solo the absolute wrong way on the trail, a guide was thrown from her horse, that horse then took off running which spooked many of the horses, including hers, and she again ended up off the trail and into the brush. She may have shed a few silent tears in the process, but she stayed on her horse, kept the reins, and stayed calm enough to keep the situation from getting worse until others could help. We didn’t sign up for the trail ride expecting it to be full of life lessons, but in the end it was.
She had a summer of new places, new adventures, old favorites, and going from thinking she was having a quiet day at home to boarding a private plane bound for Wyoming.
She knows this is not a normal experience and not one that we will typically get to enjoy. While no would could or should shed a tear for a seven year old that unexpectedly takes a private plane to Wyoming, the truth is that being able to drop your plans and travel across the country at a moment’s notice does require flexibility and an adventurous go-with-the-flow attitude that I’m thrilled she has.
Because travel out of her neighborhood is her normal, C feels comfortable on the busy city streets, at the beach, with a princess dress in a castle, or just curled up wherever with a book.
She knows she is fortunate to have these experiences and that not everyone has the same opportunities. I think the best part of the summer for her though wasn’t where she went or how she got there, but who she was with. Using travel as a vehicle for strengthening the bond with us, her little sister, cousins, and extended family members was, I think, the highlight. This connectedness is the first goal of travel for us, as I think all things are possible when you love others and know others love you.
Our two year old doesn’t yet experience things in the same way as our seven year old, but I think many of the same summer highlights still apply. She had her own version of adventures, opportunities, last minute change of plans, and more.
I know it may seem like travel as a two year old doesn’t really matter, but my experience with my first daughter points to travel at this phase really helping set the stage for an adventurous and flexible demeanor. My youngest says yes to adventures almost every time you ask. We have also loved the opportunity to take one on one trips with each daughter this summer, and I think they were quite fond of their individual time with us, too.
This summer they have gotten out of their comfort zones, pushed through some tougher situations that many adults would have struggled with, made friends, loved their family, been loved on, explored, grown, and experienced life in a number of different places that miles and points have made possible.
It wasn’t always easy or pretty. They have learned lessons like finishing the race even if you have to walk to the finish line, and loving your sister even when she is on the ground and as tired as you are.
We may not have spent the summer changing the world, but I hope that we spent the summer investing in our kids who might one day be the change we hope to see. We still have a lot to do, a lot to see, and a lot to learn, but I think we are on the right path. I hope we are on the right path. During this next season of the year, we will see a shift from the flexible days of summer to the equally important structured days of school and formal learning. But, the world is still out there waiting, and it won’t be long before we are again on a plane bound for adventure, exploration, and learning by seeing and doing.
I’d love to hear your summer in review and what adventures you are already working on for next year!
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.