October 24, 2010

Travelling through Childhood

Despite the fact that some of the oldest archeological evidence of pumpkins were found in Mexico--the gourds aren't that common here.
 There are moments when I wonder if travelling fulltime is unfair to Maia. Typically these moments pop up around holidays. She has great memories of our Thanksgivings, Halloweens and birthdays with family and friends—and somehow, despite our best efforts, the ones that happen out here don’t always live up to the hype.

It may just be her age. Maia’s old enough to remember her life before living aboard quite clearly, but she’s young enough that those memories are a bit rose-tinted.

But despite what may or may not be happening developmentally for her—the result is the same: As we explore deserts and estuaries, see dolphins fly and sea lions play—Maia’s worried about pumpkins, and Halloween costumes, and whether or not she’ll even get to trick-or-treat. And forget that there’s Day of the Dead here—my girl just wants candy.

In these moments I have to wonder if she’ll someday rebel against the life we’re showing her and end up living in one place for her entire adulthood—with a dozen cats. No doubt in a house that during the holidays becomes the most highly decorated in the neighbourhood…

While I try to convince myself what we’re doing is not just good for the adults in the family, but also good for Maia, I’m drawn to anecdotal evidence that travel benefits kids. We’ve met dozens of adults who were dragged around the globe at various points in their childhoods and none seems damaged. In fact most seem like happy, well-adjusted members of society. And all of them have continued to travel.

But considering I have journalistic inclinations, anecdotal evidence doesn’t always cut it for me—which is why I was thrilled to discover a survey by the Student Youth & Travel Association (SYTA) that tells us, “traveling at a young age supports school performance, leads to successful careers and increases the likelihood of continued travel throughout one's life.”

Yup all that anecdotal stuff about well-travelled kids being successful in later life seems to be true. They do well in school, they develop compassion and understanding of unique cultures, and they don’t seem to hold the occasional missed holiday against their parents…


Anonymous said...

One year my daughter and I were on the road for Halloween. I thought she would still be able to Trick or Treat...but we ended up in Georgia on Halloween....and it was a Sunday, so the Baptists canceled Halloween. She has never let me forget it, but is now married, with her own child. After being unschooled from second grade through college, she turned out great :-) She is grateful for all our years of travel and adventures. Maia will be just fine :-)

Deb said...

I spent a good bit of my childhood in ViƱa del Mar in Chile. It had more to do with who I am today than any other single thing. Don't let the guilt trip shadow the good you're doing for Maia - although I've never met her she already seems to have developed to a more positive, productive, and mature person than most adults I know.

Thanks again for your blog.
S/V Nomad