“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts, For they have their own thoughts”
Kahlil Gibran (The Prophet)
Your children have their own thoughts. So says Kahlil Gibran, whose thoughts on marriage you’ll have heard at a hundred wedding ceremonies up and down the country. And when it comes to travelling, I’m realising I won’t be able to control what my daughters find impressive. And what they don’t.
Yesterday evening we went to Wandsworth. It wasn’t so much a tourist experience, more a visit to some friends who are looking after the cat while we are away. And while I admit that Wandsworth is a little more chi-chi than SE23 (in fact I’m rather surprised we didn’t need a visa to be allowed to wander its streets), I wasn’t really prepared for the children to find it so amazing.
“Mummy, mummy, the trains have RED SEATS. Did the trains have red seats when you used to live here?”
“Mummy, mummy, is this THE COUNTRYSIDE?”
“Mummy, mummy, they have a PIZZA EXPRESS!”
Obviously I’m now seeing Wandsworth in a whole new light, and I’m sure you are too. But I just know this type of ‘awe and wonder’ (a phrase the girls’ school is very fond of) will not be replicated strategically around the globe. We’ll be standing at the Taj Mahal at sunrise, and they’ll want to go home. We’ll look on the temples of Bagan, and they’ll ask for a McDonalds. And I will be exasperated, and think of Wandsworth, and wonder why I can’t make them see that Angkor Wat is more impressive than Pizza Express.
But Gibran is right, your children have their own thoughts, and their own tastes and opinions too. And because they don’t know what they are ‘supposed’ to find worth seeing, they notice the little things, and help you to see the world in a whole new light. Even Wandsworth.
“You may strive to be like them/ but seek not to make them like you,” Gibran adds. It’s not a bad thought for travellers who want to make the best of everywhere they go.
Though, Carole, if you’re reading this, I’d add that your lasagne was definitely a contender for my own personal Wonders of the World list last night. Especially after another few days of ‘using up the freezer’ meals, including a smoked haddock curry that elicited a half hour tantrum from Daisy. The cat (pictured above looking particularly fine) could not be in better hands. And in Wandsworth too. What a lucky boy.