“To travel is to live”, so the famous Hans Christian Anderson quote goes. And for many a year, Mr and Mrs Lighty have lived to travel. Seeing new places and experiencing new cultures enriches the soul and refills your spirit in a way that nothing else can. But as we’ve just discovered, seeing the world through your child’s eyes truly adds life to your travels.
Having just returned from our first family holiday abroad, I already know that the new memories we’ve made and seeing the holiday though Baby Lighty’s eyes will stay with us forever. Two of Baby Lighty’s favourite words at the moment are “wow!” and “oooooh!” (they seem to cover a multitude of occasions!), and the pretty little German town of Monschau gave him – and us – plenty of opportunity to use them.
Right from the off, we could see the wonder in his eyes as our train delved into the depths of the channel tunnel, his little mind no doubt racing with “where are we going?” and “what will we find when we get there?”. Then we happened to have a pyjama change stop at the poshest baby change ever, complete with love hearts wallpaper and disco ball overhead. Throughout the whole change, Baby Lighty lay there perfectly content, pointing at the pretty lights overhead, oohing and wowing as the reflections danced around him.
And so it continued throughout the holiday: you could see the wonder in his big blue eyes at the likes of the waterfall that rushed past our holiday home, and the fun he had shouting “Hiya!” as he waved to everone that passed by the window of the town’s road train; you could see him mentally lick his lips as he spied the scrummy Monschauer ice cream or the big plate of “baby’s first Wienerschnitzel” as it came to the dinner table; and even the likes of the awning closing above us as we sat on the terrace of a pretty riverside restaurant one evening seemed magical to him, which in turn made the moment – and now the memory – magical to us.
But I think the whole wonderful experience of the weekend was probably summed up best by the lovely lady in the town’s bakery, who, when I enquired if she had anything suitable as a snack for my 15 month old, insisted that she give me one of her Milchbrot buns on the house because – in her words – “the children are our future, and we must look after them”. How humbling to find such genuine kindness.
Looking after our children’s future must require us to educate them in tolerance, differences and broadmindedness, something which is surely taught by the experiences of travel. We have made some amazing memories during this first holiday abroad as a family, and the joy I experienced at seeing Baby Lighty happily playing in the sand at the sand sculpture museum, or giggling as he bounced on the trampoline with Mr Lighty, are special enough to overshadow other memories from perhaps more prestigious holidays past.
And out of all of that excitement, what do we think Baby Lighty enjoyed the most?! Probably that all-singing, all-disco-dancing baby changing room, of all things…!
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