It turns out that I’m a traditional person. I like traditions. I believe repetition of key actions or stories holds a family, church, school class, and social group together. Maybe I only feel this way because I’m kind of bad at communicating and traditions already have attached meaning. Whatever.
When I was growing up we lived near an Army base because that’s where my mom worked. My grandmother lived all the way in California. When we each (I’m the third of 5 girls) turned five years old, my grandmother would buy us a plane ticket from Maryland to Illinois and she would meet us there. We would spend a week meeting all of the Illinois relatives and then she’d put us back on the plane to Maryland. It was a tradition before we started kindergarten.
We’ve kept this tradition in my own family — well, not the Illinois part — the part where the pre-K child gets to take a trip to somewhere new, somewhere exciting. A chance to spend one-on-one time with my little buddy who has been with me from the grocery store to the library to the post office. The little being who has requested to use public bathrooms wherever we’ve gone and sung the Team Umizoomi refrain in dizzying numbers. Together my child and I have learned the alphabet, how to flush and wash, how to snap the pants and coordinate socks to shirt. Swim lessons and skating lessons, dance recitals and Christmas musicals. We’ve done it together, but now my little one is getting on the bus without me. Full day kindergarten means that the teacher is going to see my child more often that me. And get the breakfasted, clothed angel. In return, I get the tired crankmonster off the big yellow bus. So, it’s a celebration of getting to this point and it’s realizing that I’m not going to be the most important teacher in my child’s life anymore.
Don’t let me come off as parent of the year or anything, though. It’s a selfish motivation too. A chance to travel and see new things with my child. Watch her become energized at the world around, and I get to be a co-traveler. Just look at the pictures. This tradition was no hardship.
When Diana turned five, I took her to Istanbul, Turkey to visit my friend Serra. It was amazing. We went to the Sultan’s palace, to the Grand Bazaar, to the Blue Mosque. Truly a unique life experience.
When Chance turned five, Mike took him to New York City. They saw the Blue Man Group, went to the Statue of Liberty, and ate dim sun with our friend Con Way. They had a great boys’ trip.
It’s Evelyn and Sylvia’s turn. Mike and I took them to Washington D.C.
We went through the sculpture garden, to the American Indian Museum, on to the Museum of Natural History and the Museum of American History.
We went to the White House, but President Obama was busy so we hopped in a cab to the Helix Hotel.
We were hungry and this was the girls’ trip, so we let them pick restaurants. Dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant (Evelyn picked it). Eat with your hands! Dessert at Caribou Coffee (Syliva picked that.)
The next day we walked around the National Zoo and then took the metro home.
We got back and the twins couldn’t tell Izzy about their trip fast enough, the words kept spilling out. It was a good weekend.
What traditions does your family/social group observe? What do you see as the role of tradition in changing American culture?