One of the most cherished experiences I have from my childhood is of going out as a family to Mussoorie in hills. We siblings were very young and this was perhaps the first trip I remember vividly. The colorful murals on the mall road, the pine trees whose top I could not see, my first ride on a pony, I hope you get the gist.
Now as a parent myself I have been traveling with the kids and Missus ever since the elder one was 3 months old. We take kids on all the trips with us, unless I am going on a hiking where one needs to rough it out. When we are not travelling, the girls will typically talk to me about things like school homework, the things they want us to buy, and we will debate about whether to go for pizza or burger next time we go out.
But the moment we are out-of-town in a holiday spot, things change and the interaction we have with the kids is suddenly on a different level. I first realized the same when we went on a short jungle trek in Ananathagiri hills close to Hyderabad. Suddenly the elder one was asking questions about moon, spiders, what happens to the leaves that fall on the ground, how to know which snake is poisonous. Truth be told I was not sure of answers to a lot of questions but I was feeling very happy that we are talking about things that we have never talked in city.
Same thing happened when recently we were in Nagarjuna Sagar, a huge Dam, about 180 KM from Hyderabad. I was trying to click pictures in the dark of the lights on the dam in the night. The girls were inside the room getting their daily dose of animation from the TV, while I was happily adjusting the settings on the camera. During a break both of them came to the balcony and starting asking me questions about the camera and the tripod.
A few days ago I took the younger one to rock climbing event, we were not participating but just wanted to watch what is happening and I wanted to click some pictures. Again magic happened the moment we were in the great outdoors the little brat that she is sometimes evolved into an inquisitive child and wanted to know all about rocks, how to climb, why some climbers were using rope (rappelling and some were climbing bare hands). I answered as many questions as I could till she also got busy with some of other kids who had come for the event.
I realized once again that we are not talking about who will control the TV remote, if homework has been done or not, why the lights in the study are on when nobody is in there. We were on a different plane as a family and the discussion that was happening was not following any known script. We were communicating at a different level with father suddenly becoming the mentor teaching about his passions to the kids who were genuinely interested in knowing a thing or two.
Later when I clinically analyzed the whole thing I realized since we were not in familiar surroundings our conversations were also of different type and we were not competing (e.g. for remote) but collaborating. I guess this was no different than the offsite, a lot of organizations do for team building.
While we have been travelling as a family for a long time together I think only we have evolved as parents to communicate to the kids as mentors. Perhaps it is to do with the age of the kids also or simply our growth as parents. We are currently negotiating the next family trip together and my trump card to book tickets is that we will not be switching on the TV even once during the holidays.
Will keep you posted about the developments. Please do share your experiences about holidays with your kids.
Sasha and Prasad Np are proud parents of 2 girls whom they fondly call Princess (11 yrs in Feb 13) and Pinkette (4 yrs next month). He wears many hats after taking a break from being corner office critter for a long time. He is now entrepreneur, blogger, photographer, traveler and an investor in startups with unique concepts. He blogs at Desi Traveler, and can be reached at Facebook and Twitter.