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‘Smartening Up’ the Family Trip

One great poet; one great vacation

One great poet; one great vacation

It would have been easy for us to play off last week’s trip to Grasmere, in England’s Lake District, as an extended goodie run.

After all, one of the reasons we traveled there from our vacation rental outside of Penrith was to visit the Grasmere Gingerbread Shop, a tiny little bakery that has used the same recipe for the better part of the last 200 years.

But the town also is the final resting place of poet William Wordsworth, and both Powerwoman and I really wanted to pay respects and see his grave. So we did what any travel- and poetry-obsessed set of parents would do: We whipped out the Wordsworth in an attempt to get the girls excited for our true modus operandi.

At first, they resisted. Then, following a reading (parts) of “Lines Written a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey” and some of the “Lucy Poems” (including “Strange fits of passion I have known”), they softened a bit, and actually started having fun.

By the time we actually made it to downtown Grasmere, both kids had been exposed to a healthy dose of Romanticism (I’m talking about the approach to poetry, not the notion of Mom and Dad being all lovey-dovey). And they thoroughly got into it.

As we walked through the cemetery toward Wordsworth’s grave, L whipped off some poems of her own, referring to herself as “Tennyson,” another poet we mentioned during the lesson.

R, of course, mimicked her sister, celebrating her accomplishments by chanting the word, “poem.”

For the rest of the trip (three more days at that point), the girls created dozens of their own poems—engaging in a sort of toddler rap. Every time they came up with one they liked, they mentioned Wordsworth and other poets about whom we had taught them. Some of the biggest winners were recited 40 or 50 times.

We certainly didn’t expect the trip to become such a celebration of words; we were just sharing some history.

Still, for us, the lesson was simple: Even if you think the kids might be “too young” for something, you never know when new information might strike their fancy, when a little knowledge might take them a long way. Powerwoman and I liken this to “smartening up” a vacation. In our experience, it can enhance even the quickest and seemingly boring vacations.

Sure, there’s a chance this new information will go straight over their heads. But by not sharing it, you risk the kids learning less about the new experiences they have. And in our family, that simply isn’t a risk we wish to take.

What sorts of knowledge/information do you attempt to pass down to your kids while traveling?