Call me old-school. Call me a Luddite. Heck, go ahead and call me a loser, I don’t care. I like paper maps. And I plan to share this passion with my travel-loving kids. No matter what.
The maps are sort of everywhere. Each child has one on the wall in her room. We raid the local AAA store and get “research” maps before every big road trip. Occasionally, instead of building with blocks or coloring, we’ll just unfold a map of the U.S. and talk about states.
Our latest endeavor transpired this week. In the first official effort to give the girls a better sense of where on the planet we’ll be when we move to London, I bribed them with mini marshmallows and invited them to join me for an up-close-and-personal session with a world map from Little Passports.
The two of them internalized the session in different ways.
R, who is 20 months at this point and already is learning her colors, pointed to every blue nation and proudly screamed, “Blue!” as loud as she could.
L, who turns 4 on Tuesday, fixated on distances. On one hand, she was fascinated by how far England is from home (here in California), and asked me repeatedly to trace the likely flight arc of our plane. On the other hand, she couldn’t get over how close London is to Paris; when I told her we’d take a train between the two, she reacted as if I told her we’d ride unicorns.
The “lessons” lasted out for about 30 minutes total; after that I had to wash some dishes so I left the girls to play on their own.
That’s when Babyland was born.
For L, this magical place was the perfect destination for little sisters—a place where toddlers would feel at home. It was an island oasis. For babies. In the middle of the Indian Ocean.
Naturally, this was no ordinary island. As L explained it to R, in Babyland, people eat strawberry yogurt with every meal, dance to Bruno Mars at all hours of the day or night, and never leave home without at least two stuffed kittens.
She added that in Babyland, ladybugs can talk. And they all know you by name.
Many of these facts were still making their way into my notepad when I looked up to spot L with a purple crayon, drawing a flight arc that stretched to Babyland from London. She explained to her sister how planes would follow that route, and how, someday, the four of us would take one of those planes and see it all for ourselves.
L kept talking, and R listened quietly, hanging on every word. I put my pen down and listened, too. After about five minutes, my cheeks hurt from smiling so much. Long live paper maps.