We're going to London this month, and we're trying to get the kids excited about the adventure — with mixed results. The trip is part of our intention to travel with kids and not be scared into staying home. But maybe we should have been…
My mom and dad had offered to care for the kidlets while Sam and I had two weeks away by our lonesomes (the theater! the fancy afternoon teas! the talking without interruption!), but we turned them down. We just couldn't imagine being away from our kids for that long, or handling the worry of how they would manage without us. (Probably fine, but we'd be sad!) Plus, we wanted them to experience the joys of travel.
A resolution I am now questioning, even in the planning stages.
Alrik, who will have his third birthday while we're there, is no problem. Well, at first he was concerned about getting there. I thought he'd be excited about the plane ride, but he told me "That's so high, Mama!" in a worried tone. Of course, I remembered, this was the child who'd curled up on my lap recently and said plaintively, "I don't want to blast off in a rocket, Mama. I don't want to go to the moon. I love Earf! Earf is our home."
Quick, I've gotta come up with new incentives, I thought. We're going to see castles, and a big toy store, I told him. "Castles! Mama, that sounds fun."
Sam told him about the M&M store (we have a coupon — don't be hatin'), and Alrik's psyched. He's going to choose all red M&Ms, he says. It's good to have a goal.
Mikko, on the other hand, is six going on sixteen. He has a world-weary ennui that I could affect only as a teenager, precocious tot.
I tried to get him pumped up about the trip and failed, at which point I muttered, "Guess we should have left you with your grandparents after all…." He grabbed onto that and asked if it was still an option.
Back to my list of possibilities to try to tempt him into excitement.
We'll go to castles! That had worked with Alrik.
Nothing doing. Not even a flicker of interest.
We don't have castles in Seattle!
He made a sound that can be described only as "meh."
But you love dragon games! Don't you want to see castles?
"Not unless they have a dragon sculpture."
The castles don't have dragon sculptures that I know of. There are lion sculptures in the city!
"Are they dragon-lions? … Then, no."
Next in my big-gun arsenal: We're going to Legoland! They have rides, and lots of Legos.
"I don't want to go on scary rides."
They're all for little kids.
"I don't want to go on boring rides."
Well, ok, then.
What else, indeed? I tried another thing that had interested Alrik: There's a big M&M store.
"With what in it?"
"Sounds boring. Do you get to make your own flavors?"
"What else is there?"
There's a big bridge, and you can go to the top and see the whole city.
There's a great big ferris wheel.
There's an old-timey operating room where you can see what surgery was like in the old days. They even have a skeleton hanging up!
"A real skeleton?"
"I don't like that."
"I wouldn't like it unless it was plastic. Or had a funny hat on it."
I can't put a funny hat on it.
They have walking tours where you can see the Harry Potter places. (I know, because I've been on one!)
"That's where Harry Potter was?"
Yup. Interest at last!
"So you get to meet Harry Potter?"
Oh … no.
There's a zoo. They have baby tiger triplets.
"Do you get to pet them?"
I very much doubt it.
There's a science museum.
"We have one here."
There's a gigantic toy store.
"I'll go if I get twelve toys."
I don't negotiate with terrorists.
There's a cat café where you can pet kitties.
"We get to bring one home on the plane?"
Of course not.
There are theaters. We could go see a play.
"I'd go if it's something big like Spider-Man. And has popcorn."
Never mind. Not a theater buff.
Uhh…. Shoot. I'm scanning my list frantically, looking for something, anything of interest. I'm grasping at straws now.
There are really big churches. I don't bother with the term "cathedrals," because I figure he doesn't know it. I pantomime reaching waaaay up over my head to show him the high ceilings. With giant spires, and you can even climb up some!
For some strange reason, this finally piques his fancy. "Climb up? Like this?" And he makes motions for climbing a ladder.
No, no, just on staircases. Spiral staircases that go up and up.
"Do they have lots of eyes?"
Eyes? The stairs? I'm stumped.
"The giant spiders!"
Oh, man, he's going to be so disappointed when the cathedrals have giant towers instead of giant arachnids! But he was going to be disappointed anyway.
P.S. Mikko thought this was a great joke once I explained what spires were and wanted me to share it, so here I am. He's a little more cheerful today about the trip (double-decker buses, boat rides on the Thames, and frolicking in Hyde Park, oh, boy!), so here's hoping we all have a good time!
Have you taken ambitious trips with your kids? Do they travel happily?