Just because kids don’t remember, doesn’t mean they will forget
I am getting a little bit tired of people saying to me what a shame it is that my 5 year old won’t remember all the places I have taken him. I know they are right, but for me, just because he doesn’t remember, doesn’t mean he hasn’t learnt and grown from the travel, or that he is going to forget what he has learnt.
What travel gives you is not a ticked off list of places to see and things to photograph. It is a journey of embracing difference. It gives you a deeper understanding of the world and of the people in it. Helps you to understand why people do things differently from the way that we do, why priorities are different in various parts of the world. And that different is ok, that it is good.
My 5 year old can see me struggle with the language and no, he won’t remember that exact time when I was frustrated with my lack of language skills and how the patient and kind Spanish man helped me to understand. But when he next comes across a person who is new to our country, he will somehow know that he must be patient and kind because he has experienced the frustration that I have felt. When he sees someone who is lost, he will stop and help because he felt what it was like to be lost in an unfamiliar city and he knows how he can make someone else feel better with that one gesture. He won’t remember the time or the place, but he will remember the feeling, and the way he responds will forever be changed.
He won’t remember that I took him up the highest peak in Europe, that he canoed down the Gorges Du Tarn in France or that he was a little bit cold cold in -30c in Finland.
But he will remember how to be resilient, and persevere, how to solve a problem and find a new way. He looks at the world with new eyes and sees that we all dress and eat differently. That that is normal and how boring life would be if we were all the same. He learns not to be scared. That there are kind and generous people everywhere and that just because it is unknown, does not mean that it is scary.
But most of all he will know that being different is not a bad thing. That people are different all over the world and that there is not one right way, but many ways that people choose to live, and all of them are legitimate and wondrous.
Yes he will need to return to all the places that we have taken him because he won’t remember the name of the Chateau, the Bridge or the National Monument. And that’s ok, that’s not the aim.
When we were in Morocco a couple of months ago he heard the call to prayer over the loudspeakers. He listened to it and although he didn’t remember specifically where we were the last time we heard it, it was clear that he recognised the magical haunting and echoing sound. In fact, the last time was 18 months before when we were in Turkey. He looked at me and said “oh I remember that sound Mummy, where did I last hear that?” I reminded him and he was happy, he didn’t say anything else. But it was clear that he was at peace and satisfied because although he didn’t remember Turkey, somewhere, deep within, he remembered the feeling he had when he was there, and that although it was different to the way we live, it was all OK. He didn’t remember the experience, but he remembered what he had learnt from the experience.
No, he may not remember, but nor will he ever forget.
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