Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The magic of Travel on Tuesday - Kenya

 As a family we have been doing “Travel on Tuesday” since the beginning of this millennium.  It all started as a way to get our oldest to actually like coming to the dinner table.  He started protesting anything I cooked for dinner and this behavior became his…thing.  It didn’t matter if I had his favorite meal on the table and he was starving.  He would run away, arms flailing, and hide.  Something had to be done.  So I came up with this idea that we would pretend to travel to another country, cook an interesting meal, decorate the dining room, and for all practical purposes, throw a monkey wrench in the weekly routine and hope for the best.

The first Travel on Tuesday ever celebrated was to Mexico.  I hung colorful streamers, played Mariachi music, cooked quesadillas, and taped pictures of Mexican landmarks to the walls of our dining room.  I decided not to call him up for dinner but just play the music, make some noise and see if I could entice him to join us.  I really look back on this day as a pivotal moment for our family.  He came into the room and his face lit up.  He sat eagerly at the table, and started asking questions.  Travel on Tuesday was a complete hit.  We used a map of the world as his place mat and let him pick where we would travel to the following week.  He chose Libya.

Fast forward to 2011:  Today we “traveled” to Kenya.  I bought a rotisserie chicken and prepared Kenyan pepper sauce.  I made some potatoes with spinach and cooked coconut rice.  Using an animal print fabric and some plastic safari animals I decorated the table.  While I was preparing the meal in the kitchen the kids were running around on safari.  Kenya’s environment and landscape make it home to an extremely diverse wildlife population.  I had printed and taped to the walls various animals and gave them each a checklist to help identify them.

My youngest (the 3 year old) opened the kitchen door and saw the decorated table.  His face immediately lit up and the first thing out of his mouth was “I want to have dinner!”  The others came in, we “raised the flag” of Kenya, found it on the globe, and sat down for an exciting, out-of-the-ordinary meal.  Even the most difficult one to please said she loved the coconut rice and wanted me to make it every day.

If you’re anything like me, you start to mentally tally what raises your spirit as a parent.  An enjoyable dinner where nobody fusses, turning an ordinary evening into something special, watching your kids grow similar interests as you such as learning about other cultures, etc.  I can’t always explain it with the right words, except to say that it was the magic of Travel on Tuesday that left me smiling from ear to ear today.

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