Monday, August 22, 2016

When Did My Daughters Grow Up?



 “I have to say, when I saw your girls, they were comfortable and happy traveling together,” said a friend of ours that happened to recently bump into Gab and Bec in the middle of a large market in Barcelona, Spain.

“Hold on, Wayne,” you are thinking, “Did you say Barcelona, Spain?”

A few months ago, our younger daughter, Bec, decided that she wanted to volunteer overseas and travel.  She is a Travel – Tourism and Hospitality Management major, so this would be a great experience.  This was not like booking a flight to Florida and staying with relatives.  This was handling international flights, booking transfers and setting up various housing in multiple countries.  Her travel companion was her older sister, Gab, who was excited about a chance for the two of them to do something great together before her senior year at college and then starting work.

Most of our daughter’s travels have been with us, as a family.  Two years ago, Bec did a two week exchange program in Germany – a well planned trip through an organization.  Earlier this year, Gab went to Israel on a Birthright trip – a well planned trip through an organization.  One month in Europe together – a well planned trip by Bec.  Except for some minimal advisement (and encouragement), this was planned completely by Bec.  This was not a trip to spend time partying through Europe, but an opportunity to see different countries, experience life as a local and to enjoy the different cultures.  The girls’ objective was to travel inexpensively and see as much as possible.

When they were in Paris, they got to see the Eiffel Tower and raved about the gardens at Versailles.  In Athens, they saw the acclaimed 6 women statues from the Acropolis at the Acropolis museum.  Fell in love with the architecture of Gaudi, went to see the Sagrada Familia, where construction on this visionary church started in 1882 and is planned on being completed in 2026.  They walked the streets of Amsterdam.  They even hiked to Cape St. Vincent, where back when the world was considered flat, being the most south west point in Europe, was known as the end of the world.  They stayed in youth hostels, AirBnB, a hotel and a private home. 

Some life lesson they learned along the way:

  • You can make things happen on your own if you are willing to invest the time
  • You will hit rough patches along the way, but if you stick to your goals, you can work through them
  • It is a big world out there, with many things to experience and different people to meet
  • Making friends in other countries is cool

Some things I think we, as parents, learned:

  • They are no longer children
  • They have the ability to survive on their own, even if they do not fully know the language of the countries they visit
  • They have each other, to share life experiences, to be able to lean on each and care for one another

A great trip and a great experience.  A one entire month adventure together, on their own.  As a parent, I am happy for their adventure, and happy that they returned safely.  Most amazing, the girls have grown together.  They proved themselves as adventurers, willing to experience things on their own.   In that way, our children have progressed on to young adults.  As parents, we could not be prouder of their accomplishments.