During the month leading up to our departure I’d been reading Bennett a social story about our trip. A “social story” is a tool used for kids on the autism spectrum, to help prepare them for an upcoming event, or get them used to a new idea.
Bennett’s story was all about how some families like to travel, but then sometimes just the parents go on a trip and leave the children behind with their grandparents for some special Grammie and Grandma time. Bennett loves the story even though the images look nothing like anyone in our family. I truly think it helped him prepare mentally for our departure.
When I told people we were travelling to Africa for two weeks there were usually two reactions.
- “OMG I’m so jealous! I would love to escape my children for two weeks! That sounds like absolute heaven!” Or,
- “Wow, that’s a long time.” (Subtext: “You’re going to Africa and leaving your precious children for that long? What if something happens to them? Or to you?”)
Of course, there are always risks involved with travel, but there are also risks involved when I merge onto Deerfoot Trail during rush hour. As for how my kids will “cope” with our absence, I actually think they will thrive. I’ve noticed that Bennett is much more co-operative with his grandparents and his aides when I am not around (this also explains why his school thinks he’s an obedient child who never cries). Avery adjusts well to change and is so busy with school, activities and friends, two weeks will fly by.
I wrote a column for the Calgary Herald on this very topic when Avery was a baby and Blake and I were leaving her with an aunt and uncle so we could ski at Whistler for the weekend. A local family psychologist that I interviewed for the story called travelling without kids “healthy selfishness,” adding that couple time away from the kids is “absolutely crucial, but it’s something that does not get included in pre-natal classes. It sure makes sense to me that everyone would want to take a break from parenting — it’s a huge job.”
Well, amen to that. So, Blake and I will enjoy this trip (mostly) guilt-free and return home energized and ready to embrace the relentless job that is parenting, eager to swap stories about our adventures with our kids.
What about you? Have you left your children behind to go on a big trip?