It's an ugly thing to admit, but if I am going to be a bold and truthful writer, it must be said:
I am a snob.
I wish I could say that this is the endearing kind of snobbery involving organic goat cheese or free-trade coffee. It's not. (Although I am that kind of snob as well).
No, my snobbery is the ugly kind, the kind I would prefer not to write about or even admit to myself. It's a personal failing kind of snobbery.
Allow me to back up. Owen had his first T-ball practice last Thursday. He had a great time and is eager to return. I, meanwhile, spent most of the practice silently judging. One parent brought a one-hundred pound barking dog to practice. He tied it to the dugout and went off to smoke a cigarette. The dog was some kind of nasty breed, but, in the man's defense, he finished his cigarette and took the dog on a long walk away from the children for most of the practice.
I didn't have a chance to talk to some of the other parents, but I did notice the smoking, the diction, and other signs that I dismissed as low-class.
I'm ashamed of myself.
I don't even know these people, and I judged. If I believe that there is a divine light in all of us, and we are wonderfully and fearfully made, then I need to change the scripts in my head.
I would like to believe I'm a person that doesn't value money and appearances, but I know that I care more than I admit. Paul and I have been talking about vacations. It started with Ireland, which we deemed impractical. Next, we discussed renting a beach house for a week in the Outer Banks, which is more reasonable.
Yet, all this discussion of vacations and money stirred up waves of dissatisfaction. I started thinking of all the things I wanted---a weekend getaway to Savannah, new floors, new window blinds. I wanted to travel overseas and feel the coolness of white crisp sheets in a soft feather bed. I wanted to take the boys on sailboats, helicopters, or any thrill their hearts desired. I wanted to have the funds for unlimited possibility.
For them, of course. Right. For them.
Today, though, I took the boys in the backyard to play. It's been a rainy Monday, and yet, out we went. I watched the boys make muddy soup out of twigs and rainwater, run down the hill, wave around sticks, and examine old stumps. They were content. They didn't need freshly-ironed sheets or poolside drink service.
They wanted to get dirty, feel the sun on their faces, and maybe the splash of cool water.
In that backyard, I was humbled all over again. Those boys are powerful teachers. They showed me that the beauty comes from noticing, from appreciating, and from seeking the warm glow of God inside each of us.
And so, I called Paul and suggested that we use our vacation funds to do a weekend getaway to the beach, and then we should take the remaining funds and buy a nice tent.
We need to camp. We need to go into the woods, have long conversations with each other, take naps in the afternoon sun, and go wading in the lakes. Hot dogs and marshmallows over a fire will last longer in our minds than chicken nuggets from the kids' meal in some crowded chain restaurant.
More importantly, though, I need to change my script. My children will not be happy by hanging out with a certain "type" of person or going on the "right" vacations. They will be happy if I teach them that they are not better than other people, and that there is beauty everywhere. That they need to notice more, judge less.
And maybe, just maybe, they will see that in loving other people, they will see the face of God. (with apologies to Hugo).
What makes a vacation memorable for children? What do you remember from travels?