On a recent family vacation to the beautiful island Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, I observed something, and it’s not the first time. I see families from many cultures and from all over the world traveling on vacation with their children, including infants, but not as many black families traveling with their children. Don’t get me wrong; I see them, but not as often.
Nope, I’m not judging anyone, I am only commenting on my observations, wondering why we don’t travel more with our children and am writing to encourage more to do so.
As a child, I was not privileged to family vacations. My parents and other relatives went, but the kids stayed home. For my parents, I believe the choice was mostly economic but also cultural in that kids don’t belong in grown folk affairs and vacations were considered grown folk affairs. They worked hard and earned the right to getaway to chill.
Remembering the longing to board an airplane and fly away with my parents greatly influenced my decision to travel with my children.
At age three, our 27-year-old daughter’s first flight was to San Diego, California. Our 13-year-old has been flying since the age of five.
Traveling with children is a wonderful experience. Watching their curious eyes light up in amazement and disbelief when they see an aged and dilapidated building that is a school in another country or the joy of meeting and playing with other children who do not speak the same language, but understands volleyball or a game of catch in the pool.
Taking them to different cities, states, and countries open their eyes to the world outside of their own. We want our children to grow up and become adults who are open-minded and learn to appreciate and to respect what is different from their experience.
So much of the hatred in this world stems from ignorance, a lack of tolerance and understanding for others who look and sound different.
Over the past week, I watched my son go from clinging comfortably to my husband and me to shooting hoops, playing volleyball with kids from other countries and hanging out in the teen arcade. I love it!!
Playing catch with a kid from California.
Below he is enjoying a moon rocker ride with his dad. Later he gets to drive it. 🙂
Quick family pic before heading to the pool.
Earlier in the week, we drank fresh coconut water directly from a coconut. S0 after a morning horseback ride, my son decided to pluck his coconut from a tree. My friend and I watched him diligently work at getting the coconut; refusing to ask for help, he was determined to get one. He has always been independent and always wants to do things himself, so I knew he was not going to ask the guides for help.
Well…. It took him about 15 minutes to get his coconut! Failure was not an option. The theme of all things is possible continues. 🙂
Our son has wanted to go horseback riding for awhile. What better place to try it than on a beach in Punta Cana!
In the picture below, he is getting instructions on how to direct the horse.
A rare occasion where hubby is 100% relaxed… All it took was a trip to Punta Cana and a horseback ride on the beach!
Posing with a fellow loc wearing resort employee
Here he confidently serves the ball in a game of volleyball with fellow vacationers; most speak very little English, but they all are having fun and are enjoying the game.
Other fun activities that Tailor enjoyed including taking photos with exotic pets. I love these pictures!
Posing for the camera at the end of ride… 🙂
After the ride, my son was ecstatic!
Driving the moon rocker (dune buggy) with his dad was one of the highlights of his trip. I drove too, but in a separate vehicle.
After spending the day at the pool, we headed out for dinner.
Check him out below. Action shot jumping to catch a football.
Deep in thought. Love his locs!
Throughout the year, we are busy as heck. School, football, basketball, track, tutoring, and more. Like any family, we experience stress and work each other’s nerves. Rushing from one activity to another, squeezing in doctor’s appointments, parent-teacher conferences, school projects, working overtime, birthdays, holidays, graduations and then some are enough to wear down the most upbeat and energized family.
Decompressing as a family is a perfect remedy. Everyone can relax. Our vacations involve very little “scheduled” time. We pretty much wing it and take it one day at a time. We all needed this trip. While taking a break from the moon rocker excursion, we rested at the shore of an empty beach.
I took my son by the hand, walked him to the edge of the water where warm turquoise colored water splashed our bare feet. I instructed him to clear his head, listen to the ocean, and to look out as far as he could see.
I explained that we are a blessed family and should give thanks for all that we have and for our amazing experiences. I went on to tell him that some children and adults will never see the natural beauty we were witnessing, and he should savor the moment. I also told him to use the vacation as motivation to continue to do his best in school and in all that he does.
“When you get tired and and feel like you can’t go on, think about our wonderful vacation and work harder so that you can continue to reap the benefits of hard work.”
I explained how the process works for me, and it is just another way to stay motivated. I asked him if he understood what I was saying and he did.
We’re back home and feeling very relaxed. In two weeks, I will be back to work, and he starts 8th grade. Our entire family is already talking about next year’s trip. We’ll print his favorite pictures from the trip in poster size and hang on his wall; they will serve as great reminders for all of us to continue to work hard throughout the year. 🙂