Holidays are an opportunity for grown-ups to take a break from the everyday world. But they are also an opportunity for children to discover the world around them.
When you’ve already chalked up a lot of overseas travel, it’s easy to forget that every experience is new to your kids.
For our grand tour this summer we have added Germany and Switzerland to our children’s mental data banks. And the last time we visited Italy, Kara hadn’t been born yet while Toby was too young to remember.
Over the past 17 days we have stopped off in Reims before moving on to Stuttgart, Freiburg, Interlaken and Lake Garda before alighting in Dijon – I’m typing this in a nondescript hotel room in an industrial estate on the outskirts of the city – as our final staging post before heading home today. In total we have stayed in five cities across four countries. By the time we get home we will have covered around 2,300 miles.
We’ve had breakfast nearly 3,000 metres above sea level. We’ve visited the ultra-modern Mercedes museum in Stuttgart and the first century amphitheatre in Verona. And we’ve wandered the narrow streets of the ancient centro storicos of towns on the shores of Lake Garda.
This week’s photo was taken on Bardolino’s boardwalk. We had stopped here for lunch, admiring the picturesque view and watching as tourist boats and parasailors traversed the lake in front of us.
Of the hundreds of photos I captured during our holiday, this is my favourite. It sums up our kids to a T. Isaac with an arm around Kara. Toby part of the gang and yet slightly off to the side. All three of them gazing outwards, taking in a world beyond their usual experiences, extending their own boundaries in the process.
All three of them have pushed their boundaries in other ways too. Spending much of their time on enclosed campsites has afforded each of them a greater degree of independence than previous holidays and they have grabbed this freedom with both hands. They have been allowed to go off on their own, whether it is exploring their surroundings or staying up late to watch evening shows.
They may have spent the last 17 days watching the world go by and learning more about it. But, as parents, so have we. We’ve learned that our kids are growing up fast and are increasingly independent of us.
It’s a bittersweet feeling. Pride tinged with sadness. Another summer is nearly over and our children aren’t so little any more.