I had an epiphany today.
I have often wondered how much value family trips are when kids are very young. Back in 2002, for example, I questioned how much Taylor and Parker would get out of our first trip to Disneyland. They were 2 and 1 at the time. I knew they were enjoying themselves, but I asked myself, "Will they even remember the tiniest bit of this?" I concluded that while they might not remember the trip itself, experiences like these would help build a long-lasting relationship that in the future would allow them to love, trust and turn to us as their parents. I'm sure this has been the case and it is a fantastic reason to spend time with our children.
But today I was hit with a reason just as important. The trips with our kids are for US! The memories being created are OUR memories. Not the kids.
This epiphany came as I was fortunate enough to accompany Jessica and Taylor on a field trip. The school had the 8th graders and 4th graders go together. A group of four or five 8th graders would be in charge of helping a group of three or four 4th graders meet the objectives of the field trip (with adult chaperone supervision of course!) We went to a beautiful spot in American Fork canyon called Tibble Fork reservoir. We enjoyed the gorgeous fall colors and were surrounded by amazing mountain scenery. The kids had to find, make observations about and sketch several plants, trees, etc.
After that, we went to Cabella's. (Grandpa Nelson, you'll get a kick out of Jessica's exclamation when we got out of the bus and she saw the log-cabin feel of the store: "This place looks like Gilly's!) What a fun experience to see all of the taxidermied wildlife. Jessica was VERY impressed.
The moment of my epiphany came when we started walking through the aquarium portion of the establishment. Immediately I was transported seven years back in time. Jessica was three. I had decided to take her on the best Daddy Date ever. The two of us drove an hour and a half from Murfreesboro to Chattanooga, TN. We started that date by going to the fabulous aquarium they have there. I will never forget the two of us sprawled on our bellies staring into the floor to ceiling aquarium walls. I will never forget how close I felt to my little girl on that trip. The aquarium, dinner at TGI Friday's, wading in a small, man-made stream that runs through a nearby park, staying in a hotel, attending a small amusement park the next day. One of my all-time great memories. To have a trip to another aquarium spark such a vivid recollection was a true tender mercy. Reliving that in my mind was better than a cup of hot cocoa while sitting in front of the fireplace on Christmas Eve. And then it hit me. I could now see the great value of taking our kids on trips that they will never remember. They will someday have families of their own and make their own memories. The memories we make now are the ones that will help sustain Christi and me as the kids grow up and leave us all alone.
Thanks Taylor and Jesi for a wonderful field trip! Thanks for reminding me once again of how grateful I am to have kids!