Snapshots of Three Kids in Time, on the Precipice [Rome]

I recently read a thought provoking but nihilistic article existentially making a case against travel. Always good to froth up how I see the world, and contradict our current life choices.

So cast your mind, instead, to any friends who are soon to set off on summer adventures. In what condition do you expect to find them when they return? They may speak of their travel as though it were transformative, a “once in a lifetime” experience, but will you be able to notice a difference in their behavior, their beliefs, their moral compass? Will there be any difference at all?

So will we come back changed, preferably in a positive direction? I hope so. But I don’t really know.

I have gotten much better on this trip with pauses, with stopping time for a second to reflect and watch the swirl of humans in my orbit against these changing geographical backdrops. As our trip comes to a close, I want to shine momentary spotlights on each kid, where they are in time and space, the process of becoming. Would they have evolved in the same way without this year? Maybe. Will there be a moment when we truly understand the impact of this trip? Who knows.

Please note as I kvell – there is nothing Pollyannaish in this post. As we get closer to the ‘end,’ we also endure many moments of impatience, projection of grumpiness onto each other, and I have no doubt that this will only escalate, particularly once the honeymoon of Vancouver ebbs. I find myself asking the kids multiple times a day: what do you hope to accomplish with this conversation? Are you finding it productive? See this real-life picture from day 1 in Rome.

Obie / On the Brink
As we wound our way through Roman cobblestone streets, Obie inquired about my university experiences abroad. Through markets and across bridges, we discussed my program in Kerala, how it changed me, and where he might want to travel as he gets older. I marvelled at this conversation, knowing that the reality of this possibility likely would not be as vivid for him if not for this trip. He listed off the places he might go, what he loves about discovering new places, what challenges he embraces and what he eschews, what educational tracks he might be interested in exploring. At this moment of precipice, between child and teenager, he is so aware of how he sees the world differently and how much he does not know. He does know it’s all about to change. High school, friends, independence. He started to see glimpses of the future, unfathomable and magnetic.  

Emmet / Discovering Passion
Emmet has always had a creative brain and a drive to achieve. He is more discovering in himself a disciplined passion that is uniquely him, sometimes frustrated that others are not as committed as he is. His creativity once encapsulated in Legos or building things from random trinkets or rocks is now blooming in concert with tech. Inspired by the architecture of the different places we have traveled, his brain is on fire with building – first a scavenger hunt app for worldschoolers, now an app where you can design your own city. He commits to their building everyday, longing for our often limited attention and support. He is constantly creating in his head, drawing on paper, exploring rabbit holes of functionality and design, inspired by the differences in architecture, monuments, art, and environment of the places we have traveled. He is beginning to know himself – how these drives can be all-encompassing and what tools he needs to find his own sense of balance.

Asa / Budding Confidence
What a day last week. For those of you who know him, Asa has struggled with shyness and engaging new people. He also is an unbelievable reader of mythology across cultures, connecting the colourful detail of myth with the religious philosophies that animate them. We had to shift him over to Greek mythology during this trip, as his knowledge of Hindu mythology was so intense that we couldn’t find any other books in English to support him. This week, he has shined in a way in which I have never seen him. On a tour with a lovely tour guide through the Capitoline museums focused on Percy Jackson (but really, Greek mythology), Asa was the star, sharing his knowledge, deepening the tour guide’s presentations. Our guide was enamoured. What was remarkable to me was the confidence Asa exhibited. He is usually the little one, standing behind his adept older brothers, extraverted Obie or articulate Emmet. For the first time, it was Asa – deep and thoughtful – graciously sharing his passion. We are seeing this time and time again, moments of boldness and the steady embrace of who he is. 


So have they changed? Have Chris and I changed?

I really don’t know. Will the kids struggle to re-enter a traditional life? Probably. Will it have been worth it? I’m not even sure what that means. I suppose at this point, I am just guided by faith. Which means take the next step, one foot in front of the other. Trust in what appears. Trust that they have enough love and grounding in each of them, in each other, to persevere. Trust that we all do.

So here we are, the end of the international part of this trip (I know, the US is international, but...).

Here are some photos of Rome, our final stop before our first step back into the world - to Michigan - to reunite with family, and then home to Vancouver.

Street/Random Ancient Things

Capitoline Museums
Colosseum + Gladiator Training + Roman Forum
Pantheon + Trevi Fountain + Vatican
Ikono Adventure
Final Date Night (including scooter ride) + Final Gelatos + Final Family Dinner 

Also, I bought a pair of Italian shoes that makes me so happy. So with all of this faith and spiritual and growth stuff, let’s remember that Italian fashion is everything.


Love the shoes, and your update in general (as always). Safe travels back!!
Another incredible and reflective post! I’m so curious & excited to witness you all as you journey ‘home’. Thank you for including us in this most incredible journey!

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