April 27, 2010

Belize: A boy's-eye view

My parents recently downsized and got rid of decades of accumulated stuff. I so envy their decluttered existence that I've begun working my way through our big, old house room by room, letting go of things we don't need, want or remember we had.

I'm starting with paper -- folders, files, articles, clippings, binders, envelopes, magazines, documents -- filling bag after bag and putting them out for the poor recycling guy. He still smiles and waves, but I'm pretty sure he hates me.

One kind of paper I won't get rid of is anything the kids wrote or made as they were growing up. I have a suitcase full of these marvelous things, and sifting through it the other day I was struck by the number of notes, poems, stories and school reports that were inspired or informed by the kids' travels. The suitcase (a fitting place for such mementos) is like a trip around the world with toddler to pre-teen vagabonds as tour guides.

I found this story that a 6-year-old Adam wrote in the first grade:

My Trip to Belize

I took a plane to Arizona and stayed there for a few days. Then we went to Belize on another plane. In Belize I got to ride on a boat. It was a 300-horsepower boat.

I got to go horseback riding. I went swimming too. We got to go to the rain forest in Belize. There are medicines that can be made out of plants from the rain forest.

I saw a fish and a bird. The fish was black. The bird was blue and yellow. I liked Belize a lot. My favorite part was swimming.

People often ask me when they should start traveling with their children, or they tell me they want to travel but are waiting for their kids to be "the right ages."

The right age is right now. If you have the inclination, time and resources to travel as a family, go. Now. Don't wait. There is no "right time." Or, put differently, anytime is the right time. If you wait for the "right time" it will never come. And you will never go.

No, your kids may not appreciate the millenia of history attached to the pyramids of Giza or the architectural mastery of the Blue Mosque. But they will find things to revel in, enjoy and remember, and their experiences and memories will be as fulfilling and valid as yours.
They'll come home and tell people they rode a boat, saw a fish, made some friends. And liked it a lot.