Travel from the perspective of a 7-year-old

20160722_120703Because I write about travel for a living, I spend a lot of time thinking about how my girls see the new things they experience when we hit the road. Most of the time I’m making educated guesses—I’ll observe one particular moment in time, or latch on to something one of them said. Sometimes, however, they give me the opportunity to understand much, much more.

Today was one of those days. I had to write a story about riding the cable cars in San Francisco, and figured that was something L would like to do. So I took her with me, gave her my old (and disconnected) Smartphone, and told her that her job for the day was to be my photographer.

She took the assignment VERY seriously. I’m sure part of this stemmed from the fact that she is obsessed with Smartphones (I’m sure it’s because they’re controlled substances around here; as I’ve detailed previously, Powerwoman and I are strict about limiting screen time). But I bet her approach also was a result of being excited about the challenge—she always offers to help me with stories I’m writing and I always tell her to stay ready for the time I actually take her up.

In all, over the course of four hours she shot more than 200 photos. About one quarter of these were of the cable cars themselves (see below). The rest varied tremendously, and I am fascinated by how.

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For starters, L obviously was inspired by planter boxes—about 40 of the photos were of various boxes overflowing with bushes and flowers. She also liked photographing the detail of tree trunks—there were about 25 photos of those, too.

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In one case, she took a shot of a “tree sweater” someone had knitted for a maple (see above). In another case, she captured a box of cable-car ornaments at a local bodega (see below).

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Then, of course, were the macros she took in Union Square. The square is dotted with giant heart sculptures these days, and L took a bunch of pictures of the patterns on those (see below, and up top). She spotlighted other artwork, as well—there was an art show going on there today, and she took close-up shots of a number of the pieces from that.

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Finally—and frighteningly, maybe?—my oldest daughter clearly was interested in big-brand logos: She snapped pix of Starbucks signs, In-N-Out cups, and more. Why these things attracted her gaze I’ll never know; of all the stuff we saw in the Big City, these were the ones she spotted elsewhere at other times.

Really, it doesn’t matter WHY she shot the stuff she did. What matters to me is that she shot it at all, that she jumped at the chance to participate, and that she clearly enjoyed the experience. The episode convinced me to task her with similar responsibilities on subsequent family travels, too—if this process makes my kid more connected and invested in a place and the experience of going there, I’m all for it, even if there’s not an assignment on the books.

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