Well, close enough, anyway. Noel and I divvied up the vacations this year; he took the kids to see their Tennessee grandparents back in June, and I am taking them to see their Georgia grandparents for the next few days. When we get back, it will be almost time for school to start, and my children will be nearing their 10th and 13th birthdays.
Traveling with the kids at this age reminds me forcefully, almost painfully, of traveling with my family when I was a child. The ages my children are now comprise the age ranges where I was most acutely aware in travel, most alert and alive to its adventure. None of the responsibilities or decisions were mine; all the exploration was available. My brothers and I took off at every stop to reconnoiter the area.
We're staying in a hotel near the Little Rock airport tonight so that we don't have to drive down from Conway in the pitch blackness of 4 am to make our early morning flight. Of course, the kids are thrilled. In their shoes, I would be riding the elevators to every floor and trying to find an arcade machine and begging for change to get something from the vending area. It's hard to imagine me setting my kids free to roam the way we were at that age. Helicopter parenting? The natural concerns of parents about a special-needs kid? Or is it just that I've raised them to be happy homebodies, not pushing those boundaries, no urge to roam?
I surprised myself during the last few days by how much I've looked forward to this trip. And it's all because I know how excited the kids are to navigate airports, ride unfamiliar highways, nail down mental maps of new places. Oh, and see their Granny Lou and Papa, who are always happy to play games and whip up little snacks and go on long walks. Nothing wrong with that, either.