Welcome to the KingZoo and Funny Farm, where we learn to live, laugh, and love together. Here you'll find snippets of life in our zoo, parenting tips we've learned along the way, reflections on shining God's light in this world, passions in the realm of orphan care, and our journey as parents of a visually impaired child with sensory processing disorder. Have fun!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What were our parents thinking?

I have a 16 year old. And a 15 year old. And I can't imagine anything that would possess me to send the two of them off, alone, on an airplane for an extended summer vacation in Europe.

But that's exactly what my parents, and my best friend's parents did 27 years ago.

Of course, times were different. We didn't worry about terrorist attacks, or getting stuck with a full body pat down. But were things that different?

Kym and I had been planning this vacation for almost two years (of course this is all calling up a lot of long-term memory, so there could be variations from the truth in this account). Our original plan was to make this trip between our freshman and sophomore years of high school, but my family was going to be finishing up the building of our home that summer, and moving into it, and I wanted to be a part of it (not that I did a whole lot of the building work, I'll admit). So, WE decided to wait until the following summer. What, may I ask, was all of this WE business? We were barely teens when we made these decisions!

And our parents agreed to the plan. I do believe I had to contribute a large portion of my babysitting money to the venture but that's beside the point. What on earth were our parents thinking? Don't get me wrong, I am thrilled that I had this opportunity, especially since it's one of a very few adventurous things I've attempted in my life. I'm thrilled that our parents trusted us. And I'm thrilled that we lived in a safer time when parents would even consider this. But it still makes me drop my jaw to think back on the fact that I actually got on an airplane, at the age of 15, for four weeks of travel in The Netherlands and Switzerland, including a train ride through Germany in the middle of the night.

Remember, we had no cell phones, email, Facebook, or Skype to keep in contact. I think we called home once a week and we did write plenty of postcards, most of which made their way to the states after our arrival back home.

So on June 20th of 1985, our parents saw us off on China Airlines to our first destination, Amsterdam, Holland. I don't remember much from that first flight except that we were shocked to receive American food and silverware for our in-flight China Airlines meal and that we spent the time cross-stitching and listening to the flight's musical selections which always seemed to be playing Lionel Richie.

I should explain that Kym's family did have connections in each of these locations. Her mom had spent a year in Holland through an exchange program. So our first hosts were Annie and Kees, the couple that Kym's mother had stayed with for that year. Next came the train ride through Germany and a week in Switzerland with Sabine and her family. Sabine had worked for Kym's family when Kym's twin sisters were young. Then Sabine drove us to another part of Switzerland to spend the week with Mia at the camp where she worked.

Mia had also stayed with Kym's family during those early twin years. And finally, back to The Netherlands (I don't remember how we got back there) where we spent most of the time with Oma and Opa, Kees' parents.

Even though I have no idea what came over our parents, I am so thankful that they took leave of their senses long enough to allow the trip. It was the trip of a lifetime which bonded a friendship still in tact today. And even though we almost didn't make it home (a story for another day), we did indeed see our parents once again on July 19th.

You know, Kym, I'm feeling a four week vacation to Holland and Switzerland in our future. We'll skip the hats this time, though. What do you think?


  1. Wow! Looking at your vacation as a parent sure puts a new perspective on it! Just think how much your parents must have trusted you. :)

  2. The "WE business," cracks me up. Yet is so stinkin true. What were WE thinking? Who did WE think we were?

    The dollar still isn't doing much, let's put a tack in Europe for awhile and find a tropical island. We could sit on the beach for a few weeks and write. Ha Ha!

    1. About this WE business. Did you notice there are no pictures of WE here? That'd be because SOMEONE has all my pictures of WE from this trip. Hmmmm... Maybe I should be persistent, too?

  3. Oh, how times have changed. My 30 year old daughter is vacationing in the Dominican Republic right now and I worry if I don't get a text from her everyday, and she's an adult who lives on her own in another state! What a wonderful adventure. It is great that you have such good memories of the trip.

  4. What an adventure! Just this evening at my parents we were talking with a family friend about how parents of today are scared to let their children go anywhere unsupervised. It does seem such a different world today--but hopefully there is still room for the kind of trust and faith your parents had in you. Amazing trip!

  5. Amazing what parents sometimes allow...or should I say encourage?

    Not nearly as adventurous, but still momentous in my life: I went alone by bus from IN to NC the summer before my senior year of high school to a church retreat...that's where I met my future husband!

  6. Isn't amazing the layers of memory how they weave between and around our "todays". I am glad you have a strong connection to your friend. Thank you for sharing.