Connecting with local children in Peru
I am very excited to bring you a little tale from my friend Patti here in Seattle. She is an avid traveling parent who loves to show her kids the world, but she knows that sometimes you just need leave the kids with grandma to reconnect with your partner on your travels. It doesn’t mean she didn’t miss her kids while they were gone though! Here is her story…
My kids have traveled all over the world. Greece, Jamaica, Ireland, Fiji, Italy, Australia…they’re 6 and 4, but they already have full passports. They know exactly what to do at airport security. They have favorite airplane activities. When asked what he wanted to do for his birthday, my son replied, “Go somewhere cool. Where you have to go on an airplane to get there, and they don’t speak English.” So I certainly could have taken them to Peru.
But this was our very first adults-only trip.
My mom (who lives near us and sees the kids almost every day) had offered several times to take care of the kids while I traveled. I just hadn’t been ready. When my kids were babies and toddlers, I felt like leaving for a week or two would do nothing but cause stress, to me and to them. One night at grandma’s? Fun for them, awesome break for me. Two weeks at grandma’s? I’ll just bring them with me, thanks.
But now that my daughter was almost four and my son was six I felt ready. The kids slept through the night (usually) and entertained themselves (well, sometimes). My mom sweetened the pot by offering to take them on a plane ride too. They’d be flying from Seattle to the East Coast to visit my mom’s family. They were disappointed that they didn’t get to come along to Peru (they both made me promise that I’d take them there someday; they didn’t want to miss out on a new and interesting country), but at least they got a trip of their own.
So my husband and I flew to Peru with some friends. The flight to Peru felt luxurious; eight whole hours sitting in a chair reading and watching movies, with no one needing me to do anything. I felt so rested that I actually wished the flight were longer. When we got to Peru we settled into our own bedroom with a large fluffy king bed and fireplace in a delightful little guest house in Urubamba. The mountain view took my breath away.
So what’s a couple to do when they’re a continent away from their young children? Why play with the local kids of course.
There was a smaller house next to the guest house where the caretaker stayed. She was a really nice Peruvian woman. I chatted with her in my broken Spanish. Her two little girls, who were three and one-and-a-half, lived with her. Their Quechua names were well beyond my ability to pronounce, so I called them both “sweetheart” or “little friend.” The older one came boldly up to all of us and started chattering in her little-girl Spanish. When I answered in Spanish she lit up. I soon realized that I’d made a new best friend.
She asked me to pick her up and carry her around so she could turn all the light switches on and off. She showed me her plastic bouncy horse, which looked just like one my daughter had at home (my Peruvian friend was astonished to hear this). She brought me all around the yard showing me her favorite flowers and trees.
One night while the mother was preparing a Peruvian feast for us (easily one of the best meals we ate in Peru), my husband and I took the little girls out on the lawn to play. My husband lifted the older one on his feet, spun her around, and lightly landed her on her feet. “¡Otra vez!” she squealed. (“Again!”) He obligingly did the move again. And again. And again. I played with the younger one in the same way. Soon the altitude started getting to us; but the girls weren’t tired and kept squealing, “¡Otra vez!” When we brought them inside for dinner, it was clear that we’d made friends for life. One of them asked me to get her water and food. Then she sat on my lap and watched the musicians (who were playing a concert for us in the living room!). Later, the older daughter snuggled in on my husband’s lap and fell asleep. It made me miss my kids who would’ve really loved all of this.
I’ve often enjoyed having my children along on trips for their energy and sense of wonder. Everything is exciting to them, and they never stop playing. Plus they’re always good for a cuddle. I really enjoyed exploring Peru without my kids, but these little local girls reminded me that it’s delightful to be around children, even when you’re traveling.
I’ll admit that it was still really nice to hand them to their mother and crawl in bed to read a book in a quiet room at the end of the night though.
Have you ever left your kids to go on a mini break? Where did you go?