I think we have probably been to 20 or so science museums with our son. They are a favorite stop for us when we are visiting any new city. Imagine our delight when connecting in Amsterdam’s Schipol airport when they had exhibit’s from Amsterdam’s Nemo Science Museum out for kids to explore. It was a great way to kill time before we headed back to the US. When we landed again in Amsterdam, we decided to take a couple of extra days to explore the city to get used to European time again.
My son typically will sleep until 12 or 1 on his first couple of days to Europe. So we didn’t make it to the science museum until 2 pm but it was still incredible. He said it was his favorite museum. He was even asking if we could move back to Europe for another 6 month stay. This was incredible to me because he was very sad when we left Birmingham and needed some words of encouragement. And he had now changed his mind on Day 2 and was ready to plan an extended trip. All from a museum?
Truthfully I didn’t believe this was the case so I decided to get to the bottom of his complicated 10 year old mind. We were sitting there at night chit chatting a out what made the day so much fun. Of course he was saying things like “I got to stop meteors from destroying the earth” and “I got to build a house from bamboo”. But then we reminded him of other science museums where he had had similar experiences. After a minute he said “well there was the museum but also it’s just the three of us”. There is so much meaning at the end of that short little sentence.
A friend of mine who spent most of her childhood as a expat asked me how the togetherness was going. I wouldn’t not have understood her question prior to our stay in Bordeaux but I do now. I also found it interesting that was the way she asked how my time had been. Until she asked, I hadn’t given much thought to how much time the three of us have had together. I had noticed that in the week we were back in Bordeaux, we barely saw each other. I felt that same hurried pull to be in 3 places at the same time. Very little of my brain was given to either my son or my husband when we were in the same place because it was thinking about the next thing we had to do.
Taking a couple of days in Amsterdam was the perfect remedy to our hurried Birmingham life. We ate dinner together again. One evening on a walk back from dinner my son talked for one hour straight. I’m not sure he even took a breath. We were calling him motor bouche (mouth in French) but it did not stop his constant stream of words. I guess he had several pent up words to share with us that hadn’t come out in the past week. So now here we are back in Bordeaux and he says he is looking forward to going back to school on Monday and learning French again. This is the same kid that told me he was never going to speak French again after we left Bordeaux. Why the change of heart?
Perhaps, it can be very hard for children to understand that all experiences have a shelf life. The good ones and the bad ones come to an end eventually. Adults have a different sense of time and can pace out 6 months fairly easily. But for a child, next week seems like an eternity. I think going home gave him some perspective on time. It also showed him that his friends, his grandpa’s dog and our house were still there just as they were when we left. All of this seems to have given him new confidence and a new zeal for learning. While in Amsterdam he picked up a couple of Dutch words just by listening to others’ conversations. He even insisted on ordering and paying at a French convenience store in the Gare Montparnasse in Paris as we were changing trains from Amsterdam.