For the next couple of weeks, we’re exchanging the damp and cold of the UK for warmer climes as we travel to first Australia and then Malaysia.
This is familiar territory for Heather and me. We’re in Perth and Kuala Lumpur visiting family and celebrating Chinese New Year. However, it’s a voyage of discovery for our kids.
Kara has been to Australia and Isaac to both countries before but both were less than a year old then. All three are familiar with flying to Europe but not going long-haul. Hopping on a plane to Italy is one thing; flying 10,000 miles quite another.
To say the three of them were excited about this trip is an understatement, to put it mildly.
And so there we were on Wednesday evening, checking in at Heathrow for the first leg of our journey. It’s easy as an adult to get blasé about air travel. But for the kids the prospect of boarding a big, wide-body plane rather than the usual short-hoppers was greeted with much anticipation.
As a grown-up, you can’t help but share in that enthusiasm. Yes, we had concerns about how they would cope with the tedium of a long flight. Yes, we wondered how a lack of proper sleep would affect them. And yes, we feared the worst: would they spend the entire journey at each other’s throats?
But in this moment, as they happily posed by the check-in desks, all such thoughts were forgotten. They were excited. And so we were excited too.
26 hours later, after two flights (and one unscheduled landing), we piled into our rented house at 4am. None of us had slept more than five hours in the previous 36. All of us had black rings under eyes puffed up with tiredness. But the kids were still happy and excited. They had coped admirably with everything the journey had thrown at them. And they had done it all with barely a single argument. (I know, I know, they’ll bicker incessantly for the rest of the trip now.)
Nevertheless it was one of those rare moments to celebrate as a parent. When the kids not only meet your expectations but exceed them. It’s a lesson in not underestimating their capacity to surprise us in a good way. And that an adventure or two along the way is always something to look forward to, not dread.