I promised some pithy posts this week about traveling with the kids – what I learned (or relearned as it were) on our trip to Arizona last week. Here’s post Number Two in the series.
I wrote earlier in the week about jet lag and how tricky it can be to go backwards in time (i.e., in a westerly direction). One effect of the ensuing exhaustion was that the fabulous outing to the Heard Museum I had planned didn’t pan out very well. We did indeed ride the Light Rail from Mesa into Phoenix as I had thought we might. But I hadn’t quite counted on the length of the ride or the fact that it would induce torpor in my overtired offspring. By the time we got to the museum, the kids were cross-eyed and I was just cross and we really weren’t able to appreciate it as we might have otherwise. The museum was fascinating and beautiful and there were lots of opportunities for hands-on learning, but when little hands are too tired to function properly, not too much learning happens. Then we were foiled in our lunch plans when the fry bread restaurant where we had planned to lunch proved to be a pretty long hike from the light rail stop. It was a windy day and the kids just couldn’t hoof it anywhere. And so my dreams of sharing food and artifacts that were native to the region in one adventurous outing were not to be realized.
So what learning experience worked better? Spending a good part of one morning picking oranges and grapefruits just outside the door to Grandma and Grandpa’s house (while wearing pajamas no less) and then making gallons of juice. Tommy stood at the counter for at least a half an hour, concocting a delicious citrus blend. “Mommy, you’ve got to try this one!” he’d yell over the sound of the juicer, “I made it special for you – more orange juice than grapefruit.”
Or “Daddy, this is my best one yet! It’s so good!”
And finally, with a glow of satisfaction, “Boy I sure am good at making juice aren’t I?”
I’m not saying that one should forgo museums that teach about local peoples and customs while traveling with kids, but it’s important to remember also that sometimes experiencing little differences, things you as a grown up might overlook, are as satisfying and exciting for children as an exhibit of beautiful pots or kachina dolls. We certainly have no grove of citrus trees in our backyard. It was an adventure simply because it was unusual to us. And the best part? Free refills!