“To infinity and beyond…” says Buzz Lightyear, your toddlers and any adult in touch with their inner child. Have you ever considered what Buzz was trying to teach a group of overachieving toys when he pointed to the sky? Steve Jobs would have agreed he was telling them that “anything is possible, let’s go do it.” In a very similar way – minus the space suits and slinky dogs, our children are being exposed to the values of COURAGE and TRUST through family travel, so that they too can defeat the evil Zurg or whichever challenge awaits them.
Like every other parent, we are certain ours will grow up and do something great. But other than whispering it to them while they sleep, do we have any idea how we can make that happen?
Lewis and Clark. Darwin and Cousteau. Buzz and Woody…wait, not Woody. Buzz (Aldrin) and Neil (Armstrong). All of these explorers changed the world in some way. They had the courage and trust to go to “infinity and beyond.” And while the age of exploration is now the age of innovation, we have to wonder – what did their parents do to make them who they were?
Along this parenting journey of ours, we have found that Jake (2) and Landon (4), are developing values that will empower them to think of the world as a place where little things can make big differences and challenges are worth pursuing. By a toddler’s standards they’re already doing it. As parents, we have discovered that our travel adventures, like examples we share below, have helped Landon to develop TRUST and COURAGE and the imagination to do things that we as adults set limits on.
TRUST is such an adult relationship “thing” – in marriage, sports or business. For infants and toddlers, trust is central to their relationship with mommy, daddy and the world. Developed from the day they start nursing to the moment they take their first wobbly step into our outstretched arms, trust provides the affirmation our little ones need to begin considering the unknown. Recently, we realized how we were building that trust with Landon on a night-time kayaking trip in Cape Canaveral.
Mosquito Lagoon is a place where the ocean literally glows due to a natural phenomenon called bioluminescence. In the pitch black night, many 4-year olds would clench daddy’s leg saying “I don’t want to do this.” But when we told Landon about this special place in nature that few kids get to see, he got excited and placed his trust in us and our words. Before heading out, our guide from A Day Away Kayak Tours told us about kayaks tipping over because of manatees startled in their sleep and fish jumping into kayaks. Landon came to us and asked “our kayak won’t get flipped over, right?” “Don’t worry,” we said, “you know how to swim, you have a life vest and mommy and daddy can always rescue you.” All of a sudden, the trepidation became less about fear and more about experience. Over the next two hours, Landon spent time splashing the water to make light shows and held palm-sized comb jellyfish that lit up with every tap of the finger. His trip ended with the proclamation that he had found his favorite ocean animal ever – a 2-inch glow in the dark blob of jelly.
COURAGE, like trust, is empowering for children. What has impressed us has been how our boys are able to nurture courage once they realize it’s there. A lot like the first time we ride a bike, once kids know they can do something, they start popping wheelies, riding fast and looking for stunts. But what about climbing a mountain at the age of three?
When we visited Yosemite Valley last spring, Landon was 3 and Jake had just turned 1. It was their first time seeing nature’s majestic giants. As we walked up to Lower Yosemite Falls, Landon (in his Buzz voice) said, “Daddy, I can climb that mountain.” Marty and I looked at each other with initial concern and said – let’s go for it. Next thing you know, Landon was hopping between boulders, learning to navigate flat and slippery surfaces with dad encouraging every step. Landon only stopped to look around and say “let’s keep climbing!” We finally got to a spot where Marty could only see us through a serious zoom lens. Landon had climbed his first mountain – well not exactly, but it was infinity for him. He learned to challenge himself (and his parents), to face the rocky path ahead and when he finished – he posed for the goofy selfie video below!
Comment below and let us know what values and lessons your kids are learning through family travel. We’d love to share and learn from others!