“Learning doesn’t take a vacation.” Okay, like most annoying moms, I said it, and this summer, I tried to live it. During a family vacation to London, England, I attempted to make our visit a mixture of the historic and the fun(they’re not always interchangeable, no matter what my history buff husband says), hoping that the kids would learn something, even if their summer-vacation-new-knowledge-resistance-factor was strong.
One of our stops was Buckingham Palace, and as we stood at the gates and my ten year old son took in the majesty of the ornate and impressive building he said “Well the Queen must think she’s very important.”, to which my 13 year old daughter responded, “Well she is pretty rich”. He pondered this for a moment and said “So if we see her, will she throw us some gold?”
I stepped in to mention that while she was indeed wealthy, the chances of her popping into our tourist visit were slim, (let alone having the chance to leap up and catch a tossed gold doubloon) and I didn’t think she’d be at the gift shop signing Corgis or anything like that. In fact, I mentioned, she wasn’t even as rich as J.K. Rowling, the creator of Harry Potter. This was relevant as we had visited the Warner Brothers studio set of the movies in Watford, the day before. “You know”, said my son, “J.K. Rowling might not be richer than the Queen but she might have more money.” He continued, as way of explanation “You think castles are cheap? Someone has to clean them, you know.”
And, I thought to myself, my work here is done. My nagging about the cost of things, but the importance of cleaning up, all in one sentence. I think I’d pay someone to clean the 75 bathrooms in Buckingham Palace as well.
We continued on with our tour of the London area – a mixture of “kid-friendly” activities (LegoLand in nearby Windsor) and historical monuments, but I discovered that perhaps the contrast between the two was a bit much for the kids.
As we toured the subterranean Churchill War Rooms, which had been meticulously preserved in their austere and authentic state from their time during WWII when Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his high level officers manually planned each move, my son turned to me and said “After Harry Potter, I’m not so impressed with this exhibit. They could have done more.” More than winning the war, I thought to myself?
I had to concede that the studio tour had indeed been more visually impressive, with actual sets, costumes, and a visit to the Great Hall, Dumbledore’s office, and more. But as I watched him walk through the warren of tunnels underground, listening to the audio guide, and not allowing us to move forward until he had heard every word, I knew that the history would sink in, eventually. My daughter’s biggest revelation during the tour was that Churchill and his wife had separate bedrooms, and that they were not situated especially close to each other. “I guess”, she said “Sometimes he has to work and she doesn’t want to listen to it.” As I type this article in the wee hours in a dark hotel room while my family sleeps, I think that qualifies as a key learning too.
Photo by CL Buchanan Photography
Kathy Buckworth is an award winning writer, public speaker, and television personality. She is the author of five books, including “The BlackBerry Diaries: Adventures in Modern Motherhood” and her latest, “Shut Up and Eat:Tales of Chicken, Children & Chardonnay”. She is a feature writer for Sympatico.ca in their parenting, travel, and auto sections, and is also a columnist for ParentsCanada, Womens Post, Ottawa Families, Dabble Magazine, and GoodLife. She also regularly contributes to national magazines such as Canadian Families, Disney Playhouse, and Oh Baby. Her monthly “Funny Mummy” column appears on 25+ websites across North America. She is a parenting correspondent for CTVNewsChannel, and appears on shows such as CityLine and The Marilyn Denis Show.
Kathy is the only two time winner of the Professional Writers Association of Canada Award for Excellence in Humour, and is the 2010 recipient of the Mississauga Arts Award for Established Literary Arts. She is the Managing Director of 4WordsComm.com and has over 18 years of corporate marketing experience, with CIBC, Royal Bank, Telus and Coca Cola Foods. She has acted as corporate/media spokesperson/social media consultant for blue chip companies such as Procter & Gamble, Research In Motion, Presidents Choice Financial and LeapFrog Toys. Visit www.kathybuckworth.com or follow along at www.twitter.com/kathybuckworth
Kathy Buckworth Award winning author, I Am So The Boss Of You, Shut Up & Eat, The BlackBerryDiaries Feature writer Sympatico.ca, (Travel, Parenting, Auto) Columnist for ParentsCanada, Dabble, GoodLife, DisneyJunior Blogger for Huffington Post Canada, Funny Mummy Syndicated Column CTV NewsChannel, CityLine Contributor.