Miriam at the BYU Jerusalem Center, overlooking Dome of the Rock.
OK, so I don't have a cool picture for Sterling yet, so he gets With Spigot in Sri Lanka. For now.
So if Sterling is so hard to travel with, why do we take him? Why do we travel with our kids? Not counting longer stays/periods of living in Jordan, Egypt, and Germany, where leaving our kids behind was not even an option, our children have come with us to Austria, Palestine, Puerto Rico, Syria, Turkey, Qatar, Oman, Romania, the UK, and, most recently, Sri Lanka.
We travel with our kids because they're part of our family. If I am enjoying an amazing vista from the top of a Crusader castle turret, I want to be enjoying it with my family (while maintaining a death grip on the hand of the two-year-old). I want to perform with them on the stage of a ruined Roman amphitheater, and push my kids on a zipline in Salzburg. I want to go to Topkapi Palace with my daughter and pretend we're members of the Sultan's household, and choose a room for our bedroom and pick out the jewels we would wear.
There is so much of the world, of our everyday surroundings, that we miss when we don't have a child with us to point it out to. And when we explain cultural differences or historical aspects of a foreign country to our children, admit it: we're explaining it to ourselves a little bit, too.
We travel with our kids to show them that there is a world out there bigger than them. That there are people who live differently than them - so, so differently - and call it normal. We want to show them that the world doesn't run on their schedule, and neither does our family, at least not all the time. Sometimes you have to eat stuff you don't want to, and wake up too early for your tastes, and be hot and wet in the rain or stand in the cold a little too long.
Traveling with kids builds character - theirs and ours.
1. We also enjoy traveling with our kids because of the doors it opens for us as the parents. Children can often be the great equalizer when traveling abroad - everyone loves a cute baby. Just as we like to show our children how other people live, at the same time, we are walking anthropological exhibits for others.
2. But what if they're too young to remember? Then isn't the trip wasted on them? Well, sure. But children start to remember things earlier than you'd think. Miriam has vivid memories of Middlebury from age almost-3. Same with Magdalena in Turkey. And even if they don't remember specific sights and sounds (though really, you'd be surprised), they will remember - or at least retain the effects of - the feelings they felt and the time they spent with Mom and Dad.
3. I have to admit that another part of why we take our kids is because as difficult as it is to have them with us, it's no piece of cake to leave them behind, either. We don't live close to family (to say the least), so we can't just pop our kids over to Grandma's house for a week. It is actually more practical to just bring the kids with us. Really.
All of the above is my opinion. I am fully aware that there are awesome people out there who travel well without their kids. I envy them their in-flight book and quiet nights of sleep. I just wanted to present the side of those of us who choose to travel with our kids, even though sometimes it really sucks.
Like at age 18 months for example: too young to appreciate a screen, even in those moments you really need them to; too old to sit quietly in mama's lap. Too young to understand "wait a minute,"; too old to sleep anytime, anywhere, oblivious to the distractions around them. Plus, at 18 months, toddlers seem to lose any and all sense of self-preservation. We were with Sterling admiring the elephants bathing in the river outside our hotel in Pinnawala. There was a significant drop-off from the lawn area and while Jeremy was holding his hand, Sterling tried to disengage and step off of it. That's why this stage is called the Keep Sterling Alive stage. And the slightly more difficult variation of that game was the Keep Sterling Alive in Sri Lanka stage.