Our darling Esmé, turned four recently, wow that time has flown by! Especially as we have spent two years of her life travelling full time. Not to mention the monthly trips in between, she’s visited over forty countries, some more than once and has been to six continents. One might wonder what impact the experience has had on her personality and development? I feel it’s something I am constantly analysing. Many people try to convince me our chosen lifestyle is not good for our kids. They won’t remember it, they might get sick, or, it’s not fair on them. I mean, if I adopt that attitude, I shouldn’t read them bedtime books because they won’t remember, or take them outside the front door because they might get knocked down!
Honestly, the worst accident we’ve ever had with both children was in a soft play of all places! Esmé managed to split her head open inside the soft play! It’s still a mystery with a scar to prove it. One thing I will admit is the lack of community at home. It’s something we are working on, but Esme’s friends (just like ours) are scattered around the world. Obviously it would be nice to have some friends nearby. However I also feel, thats just London life. It is transient, people move on quickly. All that said, I do feel there are some clear characteristics in her personality that have come from the experience. Don’t get me wrong she has her fair share of melt downs, she is one bossy little madam and by no means perfect. So please don’t think I’m that mum trumping about how great my kid is, she can seriously drive us all mad at the best of times, but she’s also great in many other ways. Anyhooo, here are a few things I’ve noticed about a child that has travelled for most of her life.
Esmé is not afraid of change. She literally runs towards new experiences with open arms. Wether it’s a new bedroom in a hotel, a group of strangers sitting in the park, or a childcare facility, she is not phased at all. As humans, I feel change is something we all are adverse to, wether it’s in the workplace or our social life, its often quite hard to adapt.
IMPROVISION AND PROBLEM SOLVING
Man can this child improvise! Whilst travelling, we haven’t always had the exact tool for what we need. Wether it is cutlery, toys and entertainment, clothing, toiletries, anything, Esmé will find a way. Her favourite saying is “I know mum, we can…..”. She became really good at ‘nature wee’s’ at one point. We were off grid for quite some time, not always with toilet access. I’ll never forget the day we drove back into civilisation after our off grid expedition to pick up groceries. I looked around in the parking lot to find her crouched down doing a wee in front of everyone. She saw the look on my face and said, “what’s wrong mum, I’m just doing a nature wee”. She didn’t get the memo, we only do this in the bush!
I remember we spent two months in Bali recently. It’s not uncommon to use scooters as a way of getting around. We were doing a visa run to Singapore, where lets say safety standards are quite different. I was trying to order a taxi, we needed to be somewhere at a specific time and I was getting frustrated when it didn’t turn up. Esme kept saying “mum lets just take a scooter”. So whilst that could be a really good idea, ermmm, don’t say that in front of your grandparents for heavens sake! If you guys read my content regularly you’ll know I pack lightly, sometimes to our disadvantage, especially when it is cold. You will find Esmé layering up, sometimes with socks as gloves and wraps as a hat. Improvisation is her game!
Leaving the comfort of home for a long time, we have seen a lot of things. There have been a couple of stand out moments in our travels. We visited a Mayan family home, their house is very basic with a mud hut and thatched palm roof. We were learning from a local woman how to make traditional corn tortillas. Esmé helped her peel the kernels from the cob, grind them and so on. It was a long process and she realised how much work goes into producing food from scratch.
On the same day, Esmé was running around playing with the woman’s children in the garden, when the father came along with a pig. He cut it’s throat and threw it into a bucket of boiling water. My husband looked at me and said we probably shouldn’t let her see this. I was unsure how to respond. Do I remove her? Hide real life? It was a tough call to make considering, I also didn’t want to offend the family. Afterwards we spoke about it and I explained where meat came from. Since that day, she has not eaten meat. She has compassion for animals having seen first hand were sausages comes from. I have been vegetarian or a cheating vegan as I sometimes call it (other than cheese) there are no animal products I eat. As you can imagine, for me, it’s really nice that my child understands why I don’t eat meat.
Whilst with the Mayan family, Esme realised not everyone has several different rooms in their house. She couldn’t believe the family slept in hammocks in the kitchen. I’m not sure she remembers this particular part so much but, I feel she appreciates comforts. When we were in Guatemala, we saw two young boys carrying tens of logs on their back. They were no older than 7 or 8. Shaun and I jumped out of our pick up truck to offer them a lift. Esmé stood close by, I will never forget the look of compassion on her face. She kept asking, “are they ok mum are they ok?” Since then, I feel she has a lot of compassion for people less fortunate than us.
SOCIAL AND CONFIDENT
I’m pretty certain, anyone that’s met Esmé will tell you she’s a social butterfly. She literally talks to everyone, she considers everyone a friend and is very forward when it comes to meeting new people. I can’t tell you how many times she’s just joined in with a group of people having a picnic at the park. I attribute this to the tens of people cooing over her from an early age in Asia. Everyone wanting to hold her, chat with her and play. She loved the attention and has always embraced it. She would see different faces from early in the morning at breakfast in the hotel, to late at night when we would return from our adventure filled day.
She interacts with new people all day, every day and this has certainly contributed to her personality the most. Sometimes her personality is too much for more introverted children and she often gets upset when they shy away from her. Likewise, she’s incredibly confident and gives us parents a run for our money, so I can only imagine what others must feel!
One big downside of always having a changing environment with different sites, smells and sounds is the precedence it sets. There is a subconscious expectation we will do something new every day. Esmé gets bored really quickly, especially if she’s done the same thing before. Both of our kids bang on the back door from the moment they wake up. Trying to get them to wear shoes or stay inside when its cold is a mission. So during those few months when we’ve been static at home, I find it hard to keep her entertained.
I am loving watching this evolving process. When I was pregnant I decided I didn’t want to give up my travel lifestyle once I had children, I wanted them to be a reflection of us. We both love travelling, it’s our life. We love exploring and discovering new places, people and cultures. The adventure and adrenaline of the experience is everything. It’s amazing how differently you see a place through the eyes of a child. As much as our kiddos can be a handful, we are loving this adventure!
There is no doubt we have created a mini adventure queen! If Esmé sees something daring, she immediately asks without hesitation if she can do it. She literally has no fear and will gladly try out anything adrenaline fuelled. My favourite memory is doing a zip line across a massive canyon in Ecuador. We were strapped together as we zipped past gushing waterfalls and stunning typical Andean landscape. I’ll never forget!
Have you travelled a lot with your children? How do you think it has impacted on their personality? Leave a comment I love to hear from you.