Thursday, October 25, 2007

An experience is worth a thousand toys

ready for takeoff Last week I wrote about awe-inspiring places I've seen, and we collaborated on an amazing list of more sights to see. I said I'd write about what got me thinking about that. I was cuddling with Opie before bed, and we had the Lion King soundtrack playing. I thought about how he'd be seeing the traveling production again in a few months--his second Broadway show, before he even turns three. And I worried "Is this going to ruin him? Is he going to think this is the norm, that he's entitled to these exciting, expensive adventures as a matter of course--until they are no longer exciting?"

Because we live far from our families, which in turn are spread across the U.S. and even beyond, we have traveled extensively with our kids. They have their own frequent-flyer accounts. They have seen the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the busy streets of London, New York, Chicago, and more. If one day we take them to Venice or Agra or Belize, will they see it with jaded eyes?

Tammie says (in the comments to that first post) that she doesn't think we can spoil our kids with experiences "if we teach them how sacred they are. Just as we teach them to value their belongings."

Bon says "yes, in a way kids can be spoiled by too much experience, but I'm not sure it's the same type of spoiled. I dunno. It depends on whether they lose the appreciation and the wonder of travel."

I agree that it's up to us to teach our children the value in what they see and do, not just what they have. A tall order; but then again so is flying internationally, overnight, with a 2-year-old, when you are 6 weeks pregnant and imminently barfing.

What do you think?


jen said...

i think we have to show them all the differences in the world so they can choose their corner of it when they grow. so they can go fearless into the wild.

Lady M said...

I've thought a lot about this one too. If you sit in the equivalent of first class with your parents while you grow up, do you learn that anything less is a disappointment? I would hope that a child would still be proud the first time he bought his own ticket to a show, for a plane, and so forth, with careful coaching from the parents.

Becky said...

I did the international travel with a 14-month-old while 6 weeks' pregnant with twins. And barfed for the first (second, third, fourth ...) time while flying. Not fun. But we have an excuse. We have family overseas, so it's not a matter of "spoiling" our children. It's a matter of integrating into their family, culture and language.

Julie Pippert said...

I think it depends on you, the kids, personalities, and how you approach it.

I've traveled a lot and have never lost my wonder, but my mom (who took us traveling often) always kept up the wonder everywhere we went.

So that's my experience.

Using My Words

Magpie said...


We've hardly been anywhere since our child was born - she's only been on a plane once.

And I think the only really lavish thing she's been exposed to was the New York City Ballet "Nutcracker" last year.

At the same time, she doesn't suffer hardship, she doesn't want for things or food or shelter.

With luck, we'll keep a balance between entitlement and need.

Kelly said...

From someone whose only travel experience with her kids has been in the car for 4.5 hours max, I still say better to spoil with experiences rich in new sights, sounds and people, than in less educational and enriching way.

Travel, if you can afford it, seems to be one of those things that could only help a child.

L.A. Daddy said...

Kids take in an enjoy whatever rolls their way. I've done stuff with LA Toddler that I only dreamed of, but... to them, I think, it's just all part of being a kid.

Even if they never leave the tiny town they grew up in. It's the background of the real memories.

Mrs. Chicky said...

If you are humbled by the traveling and make sure you show your children the wonder that new experiences has to offer, I don't see how they could be "spoiled".

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

Well, this is interesting. I'm sure you didn't intend it to be so, but all the experiences you mentioned are expensive... A parent can provide lots of other experiences which come with the property, as it were, and those are the ones I was thinking of.

For example, we live in a (relatively) rural place with easy access to mountains, so my kids, who are just 3 and 5, have already climbed to above 7000 feet. They ski. My son rides on an uber-mtn biking trail with his dad on the trail-a-bike. So what I wonder is, while they be ruined for mountains? When they're 15, will they find skiing booooring? If that's a distinct possibility, then how do we prevent it?

The same could be true for a kid who has easy access to the Met or the Yankee Stadium or white sand beaches, etc. etc.

mothergoosemouse said...

Your title says it all for me. Experience is far more valuable than having the "it" toy or the "it" clothes (or the "it" bag, for us adults).

I'd better not let my parents or in-laws find out how often you travel with your kids, or else they'll insist that we need to start doing the same.

nonlineargirl said...

I don't think we spoil kids by allowing them to have too many new experiences. Every time I walk out the door with Ada she is thrilled and excited to see and do something new. That might be a trip to a new country or a trip to a new park, it is mind-broadening and good for them (and us).

Elizabeth said...

I'm thinking I didn't know you were 6 weeks pregnant-congratulations!

mayberry said...

Oh gosh no I'm not pregnant. I WAS the time that I flew to England with my then-toddler.