Childhood Wonder: Hold Onto It As Long As You Can

Saturday April 10, 2010

The youngest bear was three years old. The others were six, nine, and twelve. We set off on a vacation that involved lots of driving, plenty of “Mom, make him stop!” and some great memories. We stopped often to walk the dog and to see interesting sites along the way.

One place we visited was Roadside America in Pennsylvania. A miniature village to top all miniature villages, it’s about 6,000 square feet of trains, houses, neighborhoods, schools, parks, mountains, tunnels – you name it. There are buttons to push, gates that come up, lights that flash, trains that move. It’s great. All the boys loved it (including the fifth boy, Dad).

We got back in the car and drove some more. Plenty of Lego building ensued, as imaginations were fired. The next day we stopped at an amusement park and spent a little time; then on to the relatives in New York state.

One of our first ventures in the Empire State was to take all the boys into New York City. When we emerged from the subway and three-year-old Little Bear got his first glimpse of the Big Apple, he looked up and asked, “Is this a real city?”

We assured him it was. “This isn’t a play village or an amusement park,” we said. “It’s a real city with real people who live and work here.” He didn’t appear to be too impressed.

To tell you the truth, I can’t recall a single thing we did in New York that day. We’ve been into “the city” since and have had numerous experiences there (including seeing Beauty and the Beast on Broadway!), but I can’t close my eyes and see a moment of the city. I can, however, still envision the “play places” we visited – the places of wonder and imagination. And the boys can, too!

Colonial Williamsburg, with all of them lined up by the cannons.
Lazy trips to the “bungalow” – their aunt and uncle’s lakeside retreat.
Fishing and canoeing.
The pirate birthday party (complete with scavenger hunt) in the park.
Climbing the “mountain” at Yellowstone and riding horses together.
Competing with the bike ramp and a stopwatch on the sidewalk in front of our house.
Dressing up as detectives, cowboys, and superheroes.

Encourage wonder. Sustain it as long as you can.

They learn the harsh realities of life all too soon.

Do you have a favorite tale of childlike wonder in those little eyes?


Wendy said...

We just got back from our very FIRST family road trip last month. Before we left, I dreaded it. Now that I'm home I'll never forget it!
Great post and great blog. I'll keep checking back in!

Libbie said...

Hi Laura! I loved reading this today...I do love trying to protect them from the harsh realities & make childhood magical too :)

You are brave to take a trip like that! We are taking our first trip with three kids this summer to the gulf & I am not too sure what to expect :) Hopefully it is as fun as your trip!

My husband has a growing train "city" in our basement :) Nothing too fancy yet but I think eventually he will be fixing it up like a city :) It is too big for my taste already but our basement is unfinished so hey, knock yourself out hon :) So I can relate to ALL the boys enjoying the little city.

About a mile from our house there is a play house almost identical to the one you have pictured! They just put in a metal spiral staircase last week & it looks pretty fun!

I am sure your boys are finding wonder all around them! Thanks for the post! It was a great one to remind me about the simple pleasure of plain old FUN :)

Take Care Laura I hope you have a great week with your boys! :)

Susan DiMickele said...

Hi Laura. Wow! So glad to connect. It sounds like we have much in common. What a great blog and message. I look forward to connecting further. Blessings! Susan

Rita said...

Hi Laura,
Great post! You made it very real; I could follow you and it brought back memories of travelling with our 4 boys; thanks so much.
Got back home to a snowstorm.

Kris said...

I so want to climb on that fort right now! This was a great post. Thank you so much for stopping by my place!

Unknown said...

Now I am very ready to take a fun family road trip! (as opposed to a boring, visit-annoying-relatives-and-everyone-is-sick-the-whole-time-trip)

My boys enjoyed the canons at Col. Wil. my youngest got to help out, too.

but climbing (rocks, trees, dirt) always seems to be their favorite

Karen said...

Ah, couldn't we all use a trip like that even just as adults. My imagination fires up around children. Wish my "wonder" was still like kids. :)

Stephanie M. Page said...

I love that last picture. What a great post and great memories!!

Carrie Anne Schmeck said...

So true. Our kids lovingly recall details from our "family adventures" in so much more detail than any of the expensive vacation and touristy things we have done. We make it a point to look up factories whenever we travel and have stumbled upon the most hokey but interesting places. More often than not, the best stops are completely impromptu. We have also found that when the kids are interested (as in, ask good questions), often the docents will show us stuff that other people never get to see!

Jenny said...

Great post! I applaud for slowing down and sharing the wonder with your kids.

Tina said...

Hi Laura,
Nice to meet you! Thanks for visiting Life is Good. Oh, the childlike wonder...sounds like you and your bear cubs had some good ones. We have taken most all of our family vacations in our 1968 Forester camping trailer. The Engineer is quite handy and has redone all the systems (electrical, plumbing...) Right now she needs yet another paint job. Nothing like family togetherness in confined spaces! Looking forward to a new friendship as I follow you.

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