(I will apologize now for sounding like an old, grumpy person, although I am not).
I like children- I taught children of all ages for many years. My own children seem to think I have some sort of magical powers when it comes to misbehaving children. And, I would like to have grandchildren some day. However…(wait for it),
we have been travelling for nearly a month, and are somewhat amazed at the number of families with very small children travelling internationally. In every country, we have seen numerous families, often three generations, visiting tourist sites. Parents should travel with young children- it’s one of the ways children learn about a larger world. I sincerely believe travel with family at every age is possible. We certainly did, and that effort most probably contributed to our children travelling extensively as adults.
But, if one thing is true about travelling with kids it’s that they just don’t have the filters we develop as a adults. I have been so tired in an airport that I was near tears, but I can hold it together, at least until I get in the washroom. Children haven’t developed that maturity, and it is unrealistic for anyone to expect it. They are tired, they cry. They are hungry, they whine loudly. They are bored, they start climbing on the statues in the restaurant. So I have to wonder about the thought process that says let’s travel across multiple time zones, not eat normally, and walk unusual distances with a three year old, and then be surprised by an unhappy child. Even Disney World, the epicenter of small child travel, is difficult enough to navigate when you have a kid in diapers/stroller, or really any child under the age of six. To survive the ruins of Athens with a sunburned, screaming child needing a diaper change qualifies for a Medal of Honor, or a psychiatric evaluation.
We have seen amazing kid meltdowns in train stations and airports that rival a nuclear explosion. To the Swiss woman in the Bern train station, who was pleading with her 5 year old to be nice, you have my sympathies. If your daughter is this much in control of you and 100 onlookers at 5, 16 years of age will be frightening. Maybe you can anonymously deposit her at a Swiss bank.
Last night at 10:00 we had a great dinner at a rooftop restaurant, looking out at the Parthenon. The food and view were great. If it was past my bedtime, it certainly was past the bedtime of the 18 month old at the next table- the child had amazing climbing abilities and could dance. She proceeded to climb out of the chair and dance into the bar, only to be retrieved by the Greek maitre’d. In a very polite manner, he informed the parents that this was not allowed for safety reasons, and could they please watch their daughter? He probably did not want his wait staff chasing the kid down and stepping in to avoid near disasters. Please don’t misunderstand me- this little girl was adorable, and I could see why Mom and Dad smiled at all her antics. In a McDonalds, most of us wouldn’t care. In this adult restaurant, I think the maitre’d had thoughts of spanking the parents.
I try to remember the judgement mistakes John and I made as parents when we travelled-staying at Disney far too long, letting our youngest read books in the back seat of the van, not stopping for frequent bathroom breaks. Sometimes parents have to learn the hard way and screaming, vomit and pee are great instructors. Some parents are just slow learners- bring the kids, but don’t forget your common sense is an essential travel need.