Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What I Learned on My Summer Vacation

"It is one thing to show your child the way, and a harder thing to then stand out of it." ~Robert Brault

Parents are a lot different on vacation. Take the parent out of the home, and they will show you a whole new side of life. Literally, a whole new world. By no means are you taking a vacation from parenting. The hard and fast rules, however, can certainly take a holiday.

First flight
Such was the case when we took our daughter on a trip to the Pacific Northwest. Her first time flying. Her first jet lag. Her first hotel room. A lot of firsts. For her. For us. And we all learned something along this amazing, enjoyable, and exhausting journey. First and foremost: the word "no" will only make you miserable. So leave it at home.

We flew this child across the country, deprived her of naps, dragged her around strange cities, a foreign country, and kept her up way past her bedtime. So we weren't about to give her the old "eat your broccoli or you're not getting dessert" ultimatum. In the interest of self-preservation, of maintaining sanity... of enjoying our vacation with our daughter... there was no need to say "no."
One of many modes of transportation

We took 15 different modes of transportation over 8 days, packed 7 bags, stayed in 4 hotels in 3 cities and 2 countries. There was only one incident of vomiting between the 3 of us. Yet, still no incidents "no."

Donuts for lunch
She wants to eat her snack in her bed? Sure. She wants us to buy her a $12 snow globe? I don't see why not. She wants a doughnut for lunch? Just name the flavor.


You can learn a lot from refraining from this exercise. It's contagious and gratifying. Even liberating. It can also help you overcome your greatest fears.

Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver
Like when I was confronted outside Vancouver with crossing a suspension bridge, draped between two mountains 250 feet above a ravine. A suspension bridge. One you walk over. It wobbles and everything. Crowded with people. Kids running past you. Oh, and I am terrified of heights.

Yet, here I was with my daughter, on vacation. The word no tucked safely away at home. What was I going to do when posed the question of whether I would walk across the bridge? Say no? She had no concept of the dangers (there really weren't any - but when you're acrophobic there are plenty). She wanted to go. So we went. 

Strolling along, happily
My wife and daughter strolled across leisurely together, holding hands, enjoying the view, looking down for crying out loud. Why you would want to look down I have no idea. But there they were... looking down. A long way down. And that's when I realized, as I clung to the railing for dear life with both hands, shuffling my feet like a zombie, yelling at the kids who carelessly ran past me without fear. It's not the height I'm afraid of. It's the falling. Falling would be bad. It would ruin my vacation.

But I made it....  much to my wife's amusement. Thankfully, my daughter was ignorant to my fear. I later told her that daddy was afraid. And that he did it anyway. And that sometimes mommy and daddy will ask you or want you or tell you to do something that you may be unsure of, may be afraid of, or may just not want to do. But it's important to try and to do, and not just to sit on the sideline and watch and wonder.
Not hiding my apprehension well

Did my 3 year-old comprehend all that? Maybe. Maybe not. But someday she will see the pictures and ask questions, and we'll tell her again.

What did I learn on my summer vacation?  That at some point you have to overcome your fears. You have to say "no" to them.  How else will your children learn to overcome theirs?

2 comments:

  1. Interesting ideas. We tend to relax the no-factor quite a lot when travelling and pretty much reserve it for use on safety or health issues.

    I wonder what would happen if you made that same agreement with your daughter: You won't say "no" and she won't either.

    Sounds like a great thing to do on a personal level as well--as you demonstrate with the suspension bridge.

    Thanks for posting it!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey, I just pimped you out for this great post.

    http://dadvautism.blogspot.com/

    I love the idea of leaving "no" behind...

    Good luck in Idol.

    ReplyDelete

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