“I want to go to Finland and Japan, mommy.”
This is what my 7-year-old shared with me today, as easily as saying he wants to go to the park.
His obsession with both countries has everything to do with three things: his favorite video games (Angry Birds/Finland and Mario Brothers/Japan), his love for art, and that thing that travel does: give those who take it on the opportunity to experience the things they admire the most in a way that is up close and personal.
In taking our kids to places, both closer to home and farther away, that they have often only before read about in books or seen in movies, we have given them the confidence that most places and experiences are attainable through a trip. Of course, they are learning that some times those trips take time, and lots of money. They are realizing that we have to save and work and wait. They haven’t yet learned, but will eventually figure out, that they might have to take on these journeys on their own someday. But they never question the possibility of it all and they do understand how precious a trip, to a place set in their heart, can really be.
That’s the thing that travel does. It doesn’t just give you the courage to dream big, but the confidence in believing the dream is possible.
When I was a little kid, I thought the biggest trip I could ever take was Disney. I didn’t contemplate on places like Africa, or Paris because I just never dreamed them possible. Yet, I’ve been to Paris, and still hope Africa will come soon.
But my son doesn’t see the world as small and limited as I once did. He believes that there is a way to get there, even if it might take time.
I love that thing that travel has done to my kids; that sense of belief and hope it has given them. That sense of wonder and inspiration it offers. When my little boy thinks of Finland and Japan he daydreams of the moment as an opportunity to meet the artists and creators of the characters he is so fond of. He has told us how he imagines walking to the Nintendo offices and maybe seeing Mario and Luigi themselves greet him. He talks about the Angry Birds Theme Park in Finland in detail from having watched videos of the same repeatedly, which he does to prepare himself for what to expect.
For him, at this age, these are his greatest travel dreams and he awaits them patiently because he believes them to come true, some day.
We may not be able to take every trip our children want to take. We may not be able to join them in seeing the various places they aspire to see. But when it comes to travel, we are grateful that our children share our love for the same. We are proud that they aren’t afraid to want to go to different lands – even though they know the language, food, and customs will be different. They aren’t intimidated by the thought of going too far.
That thing that travel does, where it nurtures a sense of adventure and curiosity and a desire to be a part of something different and new, has affected my children in a way that makes my heart smile.
For a child that is not afraid of what the world has to offer is better able to embrace it.
Thanks to the suggestion from one of our Twitter followers, we have started a savings jar for our trip to either Finland or Japan, or both! It’s our way of teaching our children the time and dedication it takes to save up for those things that mean so much to us, and to help them to further appreciate the journey once we make it.