Many people have asked how much we think the kids will remember from the trip. Of course, we want to say that we picked the perfect ages, and they’ll remember everything. Then I realize I can’t even recall where we stayed in Avignon without help…and that was 4 days ago.
As for Missa B, she has been writing a journal that puts us all to shame. She will sit and write about details that we hadn’t even noticed in the first place. It isn’t unusual for her to write 4-5 pages about one day (look for another guest post soon). So I’m actually not worried at all about what she’ll remember because she’ll have her amazing journal (actually journals by the time she is done) to jog her memory.
Getting JJ to write, however, is more of a challenge. I think he is possibly only on the 2nd week of our trip. But, he will pull facts out of his head that we have all long forgotten. Dates come back out of nowhere, and we realize he has been retaining more than we had ever imagined.
What I am enjoying most, however, is the connections they are making — connections with people and connections between experiences.
One of the strongest connections we saw was in Ireland. We were so fortunate to meet relatives there who opened their home to us. The kids loved being with relatives and are very much hoping to see them again next year when the eldest son attends school in the States. And, they were kind enough to take us to Hubs’ family’s homestead — Finnoe House. This is where his great-great grandfather was born — the kids’ great-great-great grandfather. The place is falling apart, but after a bit of adventure when the family dog chased all the cows into another field, we climbed over/under wired fences to get to the crumbling building. Teenagers had used it to party, and there were bottles and mattresses everywhere. The stove had been stolen, and it was pretty much a mess.
But that is not what the kids saw. They saw the place where their family began. We stood and marveled about how the children born in that house now, just a few generations later, have descendants living in Ireland, the US, Canada, Vietnam, and Africa. Missa B and JJ were enthralled with the meaning the house held for them. And we were in awe of how they “got” it. So much so that they had to take part of the house home with them. Which is why we paid over $100 to ship back roof tiles and a horseshoe. Yes, roof tiles and a horseshoe. Customs will have a heyday with that one.
Not only are they connecting with people and places; they are also connecting the dots. A few evenings ago as we wandered through a charming French village at night, I asked Missa B to stop and admire how beautiful the town was. She looked at some wooden buildings and said, “It really is. It reminds me of Stratford-Upon-Avon.” And, seeing what she was seeing, I realized she was right.
Not all she sees is positive. She hates the fact that so many people smoke in France and worries they will die young. “We didn’t see this many young people smoking in England or Ireland, Mom.” Can’t wait until she asks about the smoke when we get to Amsterdam tomorrow.
As for JJ, he blew me away yesterday with what was, to him, an offhanded comment.
“Mom — it’s pretty cool. First, the Neanderthals, then the Cro-Magnums and their cave drawings, then Knowth and Newgrange, and then Stonehenge.”
On his own, the kid took lessons from the Dordogne region of France, Ireland, and England and built himself a timeline. Not because he’d read about it, but because he’d seen it. And it made sense to him. And it stuck.
So, I’m not going to worry about what they’ll remember. I’m going to focus on what I see them learning now. And probably rely on them to help me remember things I hadn’t even noticed in the first place.