The Best Thing My Kid Learned by Traveling

Tonight’s 10 p.m. wish: that my 12-year-old son will never forget what he has seen and felt over the past 12 days. (International travel of any kind for kids of his age is a ridiculously awesome opportunity!)peru mp

I had one pretty big freak-out moment the night Calvin flew to Peru with his sixth grade class. My emotions took me by surprise because I am SO committed to the idea of travel and adventure, and so confident in the Spanish immersion school staff members who were leading this trip.

But sitting on our porch that night, staring up at the sky, knowing that my kid was in a plane somewhere over South America and SO far out of my reach, I fell apart for a little bit. I felt his absence PHYSICALLY. I could hardly sleep that night, and kept waking up to check for updates. Finally, when I saw that they were safely on the ground in Lima, I got a little rest.

Then, the photos started pouring in. Even though we missed him, my husband and I were dumbfounded by the things our kid was getting to see, hear, taste and do.

He fed swarms of pigeons that perched on his arms in a historic plaza.

peru pigeons (563x750)


He climbed up and surfed down sand dunes.

He ate a Peruvian delicacy, GUINEA PIG (!)

He slept in a hut in an indigenous village near Cusco after enjoying a meal and bonfire with local families. (Notice the jacket hanging over his arm. It turns out that as this photo was being taken, he had a plan for it. Stay tuned…)

peru village (600x450)


And, the photos that popped up on my phone and stopped my breath as I carried out mundane errands in Indy:


peru macchu picchu (750x563)

Today, my daughters and I picked him up at the airport. My eyes welled up as I gave him a squeeze. In those 12 days, he has officially grown taller than me.

peru airport return (563x750)

The girls had missed him so much they fought over who got to sit next to him at lunch. (Watching that moment unfold has to be almost as epic as climbing Machupicchu.)

What blew me away even more than the photos was what I heard my boy describe to me during the car ride home from the airport.

Cal told me about the poverty he and his friends saw. He described a conversation he had in Spanish with a little boy in the indigenous mountain village where they spent one chilly night. Cal asked the boy if he was cold, and the boy replied that yes, he was very cold.

“His jacket sleeves were up to here,” Cal explained, pointing just below his elbows. “So I gave him mine.”

(I took a minute to process that. My kid did what? He gave away his jacket?) “It was getting a little too small for me anyway, and he was really cold,” Cal told me.

I asked him what the little boy said after that. “He said, in Spanish, thank you very, very much,” Cal told me.

I told Cal I was glad he gave that jacket away. I asked what he learned on his trip. “That I need to be way more appreciative of everything we have,” he said. There was no trace of irony in his voice.

It feels so good to have him back under our roof. As he enjoys his first night at home in his own comfy bed, I am wishing on the stars above that my son will hold on forever to this adventure that has opened his eyes, mind and heart.









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