VOL. 132 | NO. 109 | Thursday, June 1, 2017
The Daily Traveler
When Child Travelers Become Cynics
By LANCE WIEDOWER
I remember it like it was yesterday, even though it actually was five years ago.
I can think all of the Facebook memories that have popped up daily over the past couple of weeks reminding me of the fun my wife and I had taking our then-5-year-old son on his first trip to Europe in 2012.
I recall him dancing on the Eiffel Tower, sneaking under the velvet rope at Shakespeare’s gravesite in Stratford-Upon-Avon, climbing on rocks at a ruined castle in the Scottish Highlands and yelling, “I’m king of the world!” and playing in a park with Parisian children. On our first full day in London, a British couple walked by our son and said, “He’s cheeky, isn’t he?” Yes, he was very cheeky but also a good traveler, generally.
For months leading up to that trip, I spent probably a little too much time obsessing over every little detail to make sure the “Europe with child” experience went off without a hitch. For the most part, I believe it did.
Some parents – many of my friends – are hesitant to take young children overseas, or even travel beyond the beach or amusement parks, for that matter.
Our next family adventure to Europe is approaching, and I’m not sure I’m looking forward to this one as much. On one hand, our son is now 10, a rising fifth-grader. He ran a few miles with me Saturday, so I know his fitness level is up to the task of walking the streets of Barcelona. Back in 2012, I carried him for what seems like miles.
We didn’t worry about dining in Paris with a 5-year-old. I just ordered him a cheese plate and he went to town. He sat in museum after museum, drawing the masterpieces in a sketchbook to later create his own museum at home.
In the ensuing years we’ve taken our son across the U.S. He’s had conversations with not-so-sober Spanish football fans after their team suffered a shocking defeat in the World Cup while we sat in a tapas spot in New York. He’s even patiently waited in tasting rooms as we sample wines.
So what’s my concern now? That innocent 5-year-old enjoying a cheese plate in Paris will now take his borderline-teenager appetite to Provence, where I’m sure it will cost me an arm and a leg to feed him all the best meats and cheeses in the land.
He’s already complaining about us forcing him to go to the Picasso Museum in Barcelona and the Matisse Museum in Nice. He’s rolling his eyes at the idea of a day exploring villages in the Luberon area of Provence.
How many 10-year-old boys care about beautiful Provencal villages? A 5-year-old boy, on the other hand, well, he might just believe he’s the king of the world.
My son is a cynic. Like father, like son, I guess.
Lance Wiedower can be reached at tripsbylance.com.