Almost two weeks ago, our little family of four set off for ten days in India. We went to visit with family, enjoy a brief exotic beach holiday, and to introduce our kids to my husband’s extended family and one of his childhood homes. We were excited to expand the world for our kids, even just a little bit.
And I’ve been wanting to write about it. But I couldn’t find the start of the thread to begin to unravel it all. Traveling with kids, international travel, launching into such a shaky world… where do I start?
But I needed to get something out. For posterity sake and for the sake of sharing. So here, in a rough list form, is a birds eye view of our family trip to India.
Introducing your kids to the world is wild
We landed in Bombay at 11:30pm local time and our kids were greeted by more people in one constant panorama then they have probably ever seen in their lives. They experienced traffic following no rules or regulations, cars rushing up to each other in intersections and stopping just short of collisions. They rode in auto rickshaws and declared those two brushes with death the most thrilling rides they’d ever had. We drank tea and ate biscuits in the afternoons and watched Indian music video channels because Bollywood dancing is addictive. We talked regularly about time differences and distances. We visited the Gateway of India and talked about history and the Queen and the same themes of independence from the British that we talk about at home.
But we’re pretty much the same everywhere we go
On our second day there we went shopping. Our girl chose beautiful traditional dresses and scarves and a bangle or two. And then she made her way to the toy shop where her grandfather promised to buy her a gift. And she chose Legos. A Lego Friends Lego set. And then she begged us to go home so she could build them right away.
Grandparents love their grandchildren
The best gift that you can give a grandparent is a grandchild in their home. Even the quietest grandparent will sparkle with love.
Crankiness be damned
And your children are still a gift to your parents when they are cranky. When they are tired and jet lagged and homesick and so out of their element that they don’t even know what to do with themselves so they cry and whine and refuse to be touched by anyone but their mommy, your children are still a gift to your parents.
Among the big worries threaded throughout the planning of this trip was sleep. Will our children sleep on the plane? Any of the planes? Will they be so jet lagged that they wake up in the middle of the night ready to party? Will they be able to fall asleep in a strange place?
I’m happy to tell you that our children slept. They slept on the plane rides. All of them. And they slept hard. They woke before the sun, always, but so did we. Because, although I sort of forgot to consider the adults in all of this worry, we were jet lagged too. Kids are adaptable creatures. They are used to being carried and taken care of and moving through the world worry-free. So when they wanted to sleep, they slept.
Sickness doesn’t (necessarily)
Let it be known that a family of four with two small children went to India for ten days, suitcases loaded with pedialite ice pops and culturelle packets and probiotic vitamins. And not a one of them got sick. We diligently avoided water and ice, and anything that may have come into contact with water or ice (freshly washed glasses, produce, etc.) and we stayed safe. I’ve been shoving carrots and apples into my kids’ faces since we returned. But we didn’t get sick.
However, we were not immune to homesickness. On our third full day there, our little guy wandered into the room and moaned, “I want to go home.” He gets homesick on overnight road trips so I fully expected this. But big sister heard and suddenly she missed her friends and her bed and her toys and her school and it all got to be a little bit too much. I remember my first experience with homesickness, at college, and how devastating it was. So although it was hard to console them that day, I’m glad that they experienced that feeling now. They’ll be better prepared to deal with it when they get older. We never did cure the homesickness while we were away but we treated it with snuggles in bed, letting ourselves miss home, and taking long naps.
Traveling around the world is scary right now
We left five days after the Paris attacks. My travel-related anxiety shot through the roof and no amount of walking or yoga or deep breathing made it go away. I imagined flights going down and attacks at airports or crowded places in one of the world’s most crowded cities. I feared interminable delays and grounded planes and not making it home. I dreamed up the worst. And when we got home I almost didn’t believe we had done it and made it safely. They world is a terrifyingly dark place to live these days and the last thing I wanted to do last week was travel about it.
But so is staying home…
Statistics lovers love to tell the flight-paranoid that driving your car down the street is far more likely to be catastrophic then a flight across the ocean. And I know that the numbers prove this to be true. I also know that, these days, just waking up in the morning seems to come with its own risks. Movie theaters, city streets and schools, marathons, concerts and sporting events, all of them have ended in tragedy. Just living is risky these days. So if you’re going to wake up and take your first deep breath of the morning, you may as well really live. Ultimately, I told myself over and over as we traveled that while there is evil in the world and it’s spreading, there is also good. There is joy and love and beauty. And maybe if I stay strong and show those brighter sides of the world to my kids, in some small way I can make a difference and spread a little light in the darkness.
Coming home is still the best part of traveling
There is a thing I’ve heard said about writing which is “I don’t love to write but I love having written.” Well, I don’t always love to travel but I love having traveled. No matter how far I’ve gone or for how long, no matter how enjoyable or stressful or eventful the trip, my favorite parts of all are always coming home. Walking out of the jetway, safely on the ground and not about to take off again. Walking down the ramp at Dulles International airport to the taxi line. The long highway drive home. Walking up to our house again for the first time and stepping inside. I love coming home.