What do you get when you combine 14 crazy mommas, over 30 children, some ingenious passports and loads of sugar?
Playdate Goes Global, that’s what!
In a community where diversity is NOT a large part of our children’s day-to-day experiences, two of my friends and I decided that a cultural lesson was in order.
All invited moms were instructed to choose a country, research with their children (admittedly most of us did the work on our own), plan a craft and provide a snack – all that correlated to their chosen country.
We gathered yesterday afternoon for the result and boy was it crazy!
After each mom and kid team set up their tables (some with flags, some with appropriate fabrics, some with music and some with books or reading materials), we started the process of “clearing customs” with each family.
Handcrafted passports were handed out to each child, along with a Country Itinerary (their checklist to be sure they made it to each country).
With all of these countries to visit – Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Poland and Russia – can you believe we made it to all of those locations in just under two hours?
Whether it was sampling mango chutney, eating with chopsticks, tasting eclairs or dipping melons in grecian yogurt, the children were given a fantastic example of what food might taste like in a different country.
No hotdogs, mac-n-cheese or pizza here! What was incredible was that most of the kids responded to their taste testing with a resounding “Mom! That was really GOOD!”
The crafts were equally as educational. Chinese lanterns, german pretzels (made from playdough), coloring boomerangs, Indian rangoli, Faberge eggs or pasta art from Italy, these kiddos exercised their creativity!
When we planned this event, we envisioned a very brief introduction to various countries and how people live on these far away places, with playtime taking up the majority of the time. What surprised us was how “into it” everyone got.
We watched kids run up to other kids and ask “Have you been to China yet?” or “Oooh, go make the craft in Germany!”
We as parents have a responsibility to teach our children not only about manners and their ABCs, but also to be more culturally aware. We owe it to our kiddos to help them understand that there is an entire world out there.
Just across the ocean, just across our borders … lies a completely different way of living. Whether it be the standard dress of a country, varied religious practices or general ways of life … it can be incredibly rewarding to watch your little ones soak up this new information.
Many schools host international/cultural fairs when children are in 3rd or 4th grade. However, you don’t have to wait until your kids get into elementary school to start expanding their horizons.
Gather some of your friends together, and host a ‘trip around the world’ for the benefit of your kiddos!
Take ONE patch of dandelions
Add in TWO stir-crazy kiddos as mom is busy packing up our belongings
Mix in with some dabs of paint
a little bit of creativity
I realize that this may be over-kill, but you should SEE the tubs of craft supplies that I have packed and ready for the move.
I am deeply fearful (I call it a bomb shelter mentality) of what we may or may not be able to find when we arrive, and we thrive on random craftiness.
Call me silly, but if our family has craft supplies, we WILL travel!
I encourage you to get crafty with your kids. All it takes is some dandelions (and whose yard DOESN’T have dandelions right now?), some paint and a willingness to take some TIME.
Take some time and create!
Can you read that? It says “56 in a 35″
All because I lost focus.
More importantly, I had quite the humbling moment with my middle kidlet in the car.
At first he panicked and asked …
… if we were going to jail (when he saw the light bar).
Then Tony asked why the policeman was mad at his momma.
I explained that I was going too fast.
(i.e. not paying attention, a million and one things running through my mind, late for the next activity, trying to figure out X, Y and Z, trying to find the right song on the radio, handing Tony his Bakugan that he’d dropped, adjusting my seatbelt … )
The nice officer smiled ever so sweetly and asked for my license and registration. I’ve always had pretty good luck with ‘getting away with warnings’ but today was not that day.
He returned to the car (after what felt like ages while I impatiently drummed my fingers on the steering wheel) and handed me my ticket.
A ticket that equals about 50 McDonalds Happy Meals or 130 RedBox movie rentals (I say 130 because I never return them on time).
That ticket also equaled several relaxing massages or a whole case of nice wine.
That ticket equaled more than that though. It equaled a costly reminder to stay focused. To try a bit harder to leave my to-do list at HOME when I get in the car.
To block out the mental tornado that is currently going on in my head when I’m responsible for other people while behind the wheel.
To keep my phone secured safely in its cute little holster and maybe even stop communicating while I’m driving.
As I was writing the check out to pay the fine, I showed Tony and explained that I was having to pay alot of money for my ticket. Alot of money for not paying attention and for failing to follow the rules.
You wanna know what he said?
“Momma, you should’a told the ociffer that we were moving to India. He would have let you go if you had told him THAT”
I am starting to realize that when I give my all to ONE thing, my efforts are much more magnified than when I multi-task and attempt to spread myself (too thin, most times) across the board. I am writing this post “out loud” as more of a reminder to myself in the coming weeks and months.
If you see me flying down the road in the coming days, or I seem to be losing focus and getting distracted from something you know I want to devote myself to, remind me, ok?
Nothing can add more power to your life than concentrating all your energies on a limited set of targets. ~ Nido Qubein
Moving can even breed bitterness and contempt as one starts the process of packing. How could something that people do every day, cause such anxiety? How could the things that are contained inside of four walls create such havoc?
It’s because we as humans – and even more so as mothers – attach our memories to things. We cling to physical objects in the hopes that maybe we can allow our little ones’ childhoods to linger a bit more. We desperately want to never forget the small moments that helped to form who our children are becoming.
What about looking at it from the opposite side of things? What about finding the positives of purging, cleaning out and making do with less. What if we all took a more creative approach to protecting memories, instead of holding on to the clutter?
When we started purging the house for our upcoming move to India, I got incredibly overwhelmed. How could I possibly take a home, that we had all lived, loved and played in for so long … and simply label everything either “ship” – “store” or “send away to Salvation Army”
We had alot of stuff. Sure, some of it was memories and some of it was necessities, but most of it … well, most of it just collected dust, interrupted our daily routine and caused more worry than any of it is really worth.
I decided to start with the kids’ bedrooms, followed by their toy room. As I spent several days sorting and creating various piles, I found that the “memory” pile was growing larger and larger. Toys that we had spent hours playing with, or artwork that the kiddos had labored over. Board games that we enjoyed together as a family, collections of matchbox cars and legos. Dressup clothes that no longer fit or were tattered and ripped.
All of those things somehow ended up in the “keep forever” pile. It wasn’t because they were worth anything monetarily. It sure wasn’t because I would ever mend the dressup clothes for continued play and most of those toys they had long outgrown and forgotten about.
That pile of things ‘to keep’ simply had memories attached to them.
In the several weeks that have gone by since I started sorting and purging, I have begun to let go of the attachment to these things, and have begun to journal my memories instead. I’ve replaced the physical ‘holding on’ mentality with a written form of keepsakes. I am choosing to do away with the stuff, and instead keep a longer lasting recollection of the emotions and moments that go along with the stuff.
By writing about those experiences (the puppet shows, the 100s of dressup escapades, the family board game nights, and arts & crafts time) and capturing what they meant to me, I am creating a much more important treasure box, so to speak, than if I chose to keep the items that were attached to those memories.
What creative ways can you keep memories alive, without keeping the stuff? How can you preserve your children’s childhood and keep it alive in your minds, without cluttering your living space?
I’ve always been a “why not” kind of girl. One who accepts challenges without having to sit down first and one who says a crazy “YES!” to any new opportunity and I’ve always longed for a chance to expand my global horizons.
My husband and I talk often about traveling more … and we already do our fair share of it. We are that family that might scrimp on certain things, but thoroughly enjoy our vacations … and schedule them whenever we possibly can.
I’ve been saving for a trip to Italy for quite awhile now, and was getting *this* close to surprising my husband with the news that finally, we could go take the trip of a lifetime. Explore new things and see new places. Italy was the place in my mind that took me away from the reality that I live in a snowglobe.
Italy provided a perfect daydream scenario to forget that it feels that it snows every day where I live – between October and April, and that the sun gives up on trying to peek out of the clouds for what seems like seven months out of the year.
Italy became, for me, a sanity saver and a wild dream that one day … we would visit. We would take our babysitter and sip espresso and limoncello, see the sights, and bask in everything that Italy has to offer.
Little did I know that my dream of a romantic vacation to Italy was going to replaced by a relocation. A MOVE – to the very same continent where you find Italy, but a different country that starts with an “I” and not just for a couple of weeks vacation.
Join me if you will as I bring you an up close, personal and very honest look at the road of taking a family of five across the ocean, to Delhi India.
(welcome, in Hindi)
This journey is cross posted at Delhi Bound.