Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Experience > Stuff

This is some of the core math that I live by as a parent; particularly as a homeschooling mom.

What do I mean by this made-up pseudo-math? I mean that a person can learn a thousand immeasurable things more by doing something than by reading about it. If there is even one person who would argue with this "math", please tell me your thoughts. (It would happen that I believe this with the fervor of a fanatic - and I love being challenged on deeply held beliefs. Truly. It gives me an opportunity to re-examine them and make any necessary adjustments - be it shoring up, or replacing irrelevant parts.) 

I suppose another way to express it is that practical trumps theory. Is theory necessary? Yes, absolutely. But theory is the jetway and practical is the jet. And my what a convenient metaphor I just came up with there because it just so happens that I also believe that travel is the [insert clever metaphor here] of experience. Some are a bit run of the mill but still offer enough variety and favorites to please the crowd, others are just different enough to be new, exciting and interesting, while others still are all glitz and glamour and one can hardly believe ones own eyes at the Wow! of it all. 

We haven't quite made it to the glitz and glamour, but we are doing what we can to get the New, the Exciting, the Interesting.  And by "get", I mean "give".  To our children.  As gifts. 

In my homeschooling mom's book:

Travel = Experience > Stuff

We've never been the kind of family that has oodles of toys and gadgets for our kids to play with.  (Sometimes I have a literal jaw-drop experience at the vast oceans of toys that some children have in their rooms/play areas.  And then I have to quickly shake it off and smile and wave and be polite because no one wants to be told that they are over indulging their child with waaay too much junk crap toys; even if only by probably less than tactful look of shock and awe on my treacherous face.) Ahem.  What was I saying?  Yes.  Toys.  The point is, we never bought our kids a bunch of toys.  Sometimes I felt a little bad wondering if I was depriving my children. But the feeling would pass and everything would still be okay. 

Too late for a long story short, so I will just say that what we do buy for our children are trips.  And books.  And flour.  And borax.  And art supplies.  And a life that includeds lots of hands on (and hands off!) experiences.  "What can we do?" and "Where can we go?" were and still are the questions that quickly and easily trump "What should we get them?" (To which the answer is invariably books, anyway.) 

Does it mean that our kids never played with toys? Not at all.  That they never get stuff from "Santa"? Of course not!  What it does mean is that we go underboard with toys and above or overboard with experience.   I would say that I try to be balanced but it would be a bald faced lie.  I'm the person that measures sums of money in terms of travel value.  As in "Twelve hundred dollars?! That's plane tickets to Florida!".  (Look, I know Florida is no great shakes for culture and amazingness, but my mom and sisters and grandma and other relatives are there and family connection is also Very Important to me.  And it's still travel! And they have Science Museums and parks and fun stuff.) 

But I've said too much.  It's not just about travel.  It's about the doing of the things.  The touching the feeling the pouring the cutting the finding the miscrosoping the telescoping (not yet, but soon!) the dirty hands and messy house, and most of all the wide eyed wonderment and the ever natural high inducing "Aha!" moments of discovery. 

I don't want to give my kids too many of the things that will lose their shine and appeal and end up in the landfill one day; not when I can give them the excitement, the adventure, the boredom, the thrill, the "OH MY GOSH!", the "are we there YET?!" and later, the memories and the stories told excitedly to anyone who will listen. 

What it all boils down to for me is that:

Stuff doesn't get as much mileage as airplanes can. 


Emilio Fernandez said...

Good morning, how are you?

My name is Emilio, I am a Spanish boy and I live in a town near to Madrid. I am a very interested person in knowing things so different as the culture, the way of life of the inhabitants of our planet, the fauna, the flora, and the landscapes of all the countries of the world etc. in summary, I am a person that enjoys traveling, learning and respecting people's diversity from all over the world.

I would love to travel and meet in person all the aspects above mentioned, but unfortunately as this is very expensive and my purchasing power is quite small, so I devised a way to travel with the imagination in every corner of our planet. A few years ago I started a collection of used stamps because through them, you can see pictures about fauna, flora, monuments, landscapes etc. from all the countries. As every day is more and more difficult to get stamps, some years ago I started a new collection in order to get traditional letters addressed to me in which my goal was to get at least 1 letter from each country in the world. This modest goal is feasible to reach in the most part of countries, but unfortunately, it is impossible to achieve in other various territories for several reasons, either because they are very small countries with very few population, either because they are countries at war, either because they are countries with extreme poverty or because for whatever reason the postal system is not functioning properly.

For all this, I would ask you one small favor:
Would you be so kind as to send me a letter by traditional mail from Bahamas? I understand perfectly that you think that your blog is not the appropriate place to ask this, and even, is very probably that you ignore my letter, but I would call your attention to the difficulty involved in getting a letter from that country, and also I don’t know anyone neither where to write in Bahamas in order to increase my collection. a letter for me is like a little souvenir, like if I have had visited that territory with my imagination and at same time, the arrival of the letters from a country is a sign of peace and normality and an original way to promote a country in the world. My postal address is the following one:

Emilio Fernandez Esteban
Avenida Juan de la Cierva, 44
28902 Getafe (Madrid)

If you wish, you can visit my blog where you can see the pictures of all the letters that I have received from whole World.

Finally, I would like to thank the attention given to this letter, and whether you can help me or not, I send my best wishes for peace, health and happiness for you, your family and all your dear beings.

Yours Sincerely

Emilio Fernandez

Emilio Fernandez said...

Hello my friend, thank you very much for your kind answer in a comment on my blog. To answer to your questions, I will tell you that I can write in English, but I'm not able to talk it, because the pronunciation it's very difficult for me. Yes a cover is a letter (an envelope with a stamp from your country)as you can see in my blog there, I publish all the letters that I receive from whole world. It's nice for me to share my letters with other friends collectors like me all around of the world.

Best wishes and a strong hug from Spain

Emilio Fernandez