From “Buddy” to Friends in 7 Days

I am Jade and, if you read my mother’s blog, you may know who I am.

I am 15 years old and recently moved to a little town. In this little town, sits my new school. In my new school, there was the opportunity to travel to Europe. When I heard Auschwitz was on the itinerary, I asked to go.

Quick little thing I didn’t think about when I asked to go: I didn’t know a soul, not one single person.

Fast forward to the trip itself. We were told we had to have a ‘buddy’ for the trip.

Cue the students scanning the chairs for their best friends, locking eyes and nodding.

Cue me sitting alone wondering how I’m going to convince someone to let me tag along with them.

Fortunately, another girl was wondering the same thing,

I didn’t know her, I barely recognized her from other meetings, and for the life of me, I couldn’t remember her name.

Yet, she became my ‘buddy’, by process of elimination. Gotta love that process though.

Fast forward to the airport, My ‘buddy’, otherwise known as Kristen, is attempting small talk with me, but we mostly sit in silence, texting other people. Every now and then we get up and walk to the bathroom or head to a store to buy snacks. Yes, it rings of awkward beginnings.

The plane finally arrives.  I am immediately asked if I’m willing to trade so a couple of friends can sit next to each other on the flight. So, I move. I don’t have anyone I know, or want to sit next to, so I might as well.

I find myself sitting in between a girl I don’t know (who later became my friend and my roommate in Budapest), and my chaperone, a Grade 12 Calculus teacher. I could not sleep at all during the whole eight hours. I didn’t want to sleep to the left of my chair, in fear I would fall asleep on top of the unknown girl, and I didn’t want to sleep to the right in fear of sleeping on top of the calculus teacher.

So I slept on my backpack, hunched over and sore to the sound of my music blasting through my ear phones. At least I could listen to Fall Out Boy for the eight hours.

I spent the plane ride sitting next to people I didn’t know, wondering if I would make friends with anyone on this trip.

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Starting out alone.

Fast forward to the trip back, where everyone is shouting and asking if people are willing to trade seats again.

Except now, I was the one asking!

I spent the flight sitting next to my ‘buddy’ who had become my friend over the course of the trip.

All my fears of not knowing anyone for an entire week in Europe had disappeared almost instantaneously when we landed in Europe.

So I took the plane there, not wanting to sleep next to strangers. Seven days later, I took the plane home, asleep on my new friend’s shoulder.

My Confession: Reflecting On My Daughter’s First Trip Without Me

I have a confession to make. (well 3 actually)

1. I am so relieved that Jade did not lose her passport on her trip to Europe. But does this now mean that I have to give up my control of said passport on all future trips? I can feel myself hyperventilating at the very thought of it.

Thankfully she had it to the very end.

Thankfully she had it to the very end.

2. I am so relieved that she and her friends left a polite and respectful note to the cleaning staff at a hotel.

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3. I am so relieved that she did not purchase any of these souvenirs and bring them home to conservative Canada.

However, she did take the photo so (gulp) I guess she knew what they were !!! 🙂

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But most importantly, she went to Europe to make some new friends, take selfies and get her hair braided.

What more could a mother ask for?

Jade with new friends having fun :)

Jade with new friends having fun 🙂

What Are You Most Worried About When You Travel?

Jade was born to backpack. She is a natural at it.

I knew this early on when we took a bus from Prince Edward Island to Ontario. She had just finished grade 1 but boy, could she scope out a free seat and get to it before anyone else; even with luggage in tow.

Nothing could make me prouder.

With these gifts in hand, Jade took to travelling like a mouse to my house.

But… and isn’t there always a but?…

Travelling is Jade’s friend. Food is not. She could do without.

Enter: Europe school trip and pre-determined dinner menus with some flexibility for breakfast and lunch (Jade thanks the food gods for that)

It was a rough start.

Apparently not a Jade fav and this appeared twice;  which was not so nice.

Apparently not a Jade fav and this appeared twice; which was not so nice.

But the Sprite helped 🙂

Sprite was a make up for the less than nice dinner that accidentally arrived twice.  This company, EF Tours, understands teens well!

Sprite was a make up for the less than nice dinner that accidentally arrived twice. This company, EF Tours, understands teens well!

Then she was hopeful. But…

So she looks to a Canadian (?) restaurant for some food aid, but apparently it was false advertising.

And then she hit the food jackpot… carbs, hot chocolate and ice cream, of course!

And sadly the one that got away due to lack of time. She will eat her dessert first next time. 😦

Jade will never know how this one tasted, sadly, she confesses.

Jade will never know how this one tasted, sadly, she confesses.

History Repeats Itself – 34 Years Later

A mere 34 years later, I watched a somewhat similar version of myself arrive home from her school trip to Europe.

Yes, Jade has returned and we have the piles in the house to prove it.

Never would I have thought when I went to Europe in Grade 10 on my first trip outside of North America, that some day I would be waiting in a parking lot for my own daughter to do the same.

Never would I have thought that the same moment (visiting a concentration camp) would impact her as deeply and emotionally as it had affected me 34 years ago.

Never would I have thought that I would be as excited to share her photos and stories with her, as I was to share mine with my parents.

Never would I have thought that 34 years later, my own daughter would bring home the same Milka chocolate that I too had brought home with me.

So last night, listening to her excitedly retell her adventures, I had tears in my eyes; as I imagined that someday, she too will sit on a couch and listen to her own child do the same.

A beautiful circle of travel that would be.

Me - returning home from my European trip.

Me – returning home from my European trip.

Jade returning home from her trip, eating her Milka - a great cure for jet lag!

Jade eating her Milka – a great cure for jet lag!

The Opposite of Zen: Getting A Teen Packed for a Trip

So this probably started about a week ago.

Jade, do you know what you will be taking with you to Europe?

I know. I have time. 

Repeat above question a zillion times and repeat above answer a zillion times, and you know what our house has been sounding like for the last 7 days.

Then the volcano exploded (or otherwise known as mom couldn’t take it one minute longer.)

Jade, you have 2 days until you go. Get your stuff together and get organized. Pleeeeaaaaaaase.

I will. I have been. It is all in my bedroom.

Oh, that word, “bedroom” is a scary word. It conjures up socks thrown in all directions, piles of clothing tossed amongst sheets, a comforter pushed aside and who knows what on the floor.

I fear going in to look. I try to let my imagination stay in a happy positive place. But still my curiosity kills me and I enter.

I see the red backpack on the floor, stuff all over the desk, piles of what appears to be random clothing and I leave, hyperventilating.

This kid will never get to Europe at this rate. She will show up with the clothes on her back while others will be dragging huge suitcases.

Jade is, what we call, a minimalist.

Case in point… after having travelled Peru for a week or so, we finally found a place to do laundry. While everyone else in the family had plenty to throw in, she declared she had nothing that needed cleaning. She seems to never have anything that needs cleaning! Yes, she is cheap on the water bill.

So when I woke up this morning, I told Chris that I must be grinding my teeth. My head felt like it was going to fall off but I am certain it was this…

It was Friday. Jade leaves Sat. The packing must get done.

Chris steps in. He is a masterful negotiator; he manages us like we are Israel and Palestine. 

Jade stomps upstairs as I insist oh so politely that I must see all the belongings to go in one place. 

She insists oh so politely that I am the new Monica (from the TV show, Friends) of travelling; apparently a tad controlling, and a bit too overbearing. 

I let that go. (or I try to)

Chris sits off to the side, ready to jump in if needed, and we get down to backpack business.

A lot of eye rolls later,  a few comments made, exasperated sighs overly emphasized and the finish line is in sight.

We break out the chocolate almonds to celebrate and then I (or Monica) say:

Now remember Jade when you get there, you need to…

And then she yells, I know! I have travelled before! I know all this stuff!

And I quietly retreat, agreeing in my head, that she is probably right.

Jade does know her stuff. Her mom just hasn't "realized it yet".  A lesson in letting go. (or trying to)

Jade does know her stuff. Her mom just hasn’t “realized it yet”. A lesson in letting go. (or trying to)

On finally being ready for Europe. The packing is done and now the fun can begin.

On finally being ready for Europe. The packing is done and now the fun can begin.

When Your Kids Travel and You Stay Home or Otherwise Known as Me Pouting

I was so excited when Erin first mentioned Uganda.

She had met some university friends from Uganda and her other friend wanted to visit them. Bonus! Not only someone to travel with, but people to stay with. It doesn’t get much better than that. As well as… this is Uganda, need I say more. Often called the Switzerland of Africa and touted as “one of the favs on the African backpacker trail”, I didn’t hesitate to encourage her to go. In fact, it probably went something like this,

Erin, you would be insane to not go. I would die to go to Uganda. You will love it! And if you don’t, you are nuts.


But then, it dawned on me. Someone in our family is going to someplace great and I am not. Oh, that hurts, just a little. I know, I know, be happy for your kids so I was… but still I felt a tad travel envious of the Facebook updates as they came in. Darn that Facebook for the constant reminders of what else is out there and how much fun it looks.

Now Jade, this week, is going to Europe on a school trip. Secretly, I wish it was only to places that I have been to (I know… more confessions of a travel obsessed mom and on that note, you can read this if you would like Confessions of A Travel Obsessed Mom for more gory unconventional details. You see, I really really want to see Budapest and Krakow and of course, would love to see Berlin and Prague again. But as with Erin, I am so happy for her and will patiently await her return for every travel detail possible.

So as we get her prepared for her trip (and remember this is Europe = expensive in our travel books) we will tell her to have fun, to explore, to ask questions, and to eat all her lunches (not covered) outside, picnic style, to save us a little money. 🙂

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The only kind of lunch the C family can afford in Europe.