Rivka is two years old today. You don’t know much about her.
While I extensively documented the rise of Petra on this blog, I’ve published very little up to here about Rivka. That’s just the breaks for the second child, I guess.
But it was more than just this. My wife didn’t want to birth a child in China — understandably — so we packed up camp and went to her parents’ house in Maine. Rivka was born a couple of months later.
The lifestyle dynamic during this time was set: I would travel out on my projects and they would stay put in Maine, save for a three month stretch last summer when they traveled with me in Eastern Europe and Cyprus.
This worked for me. My work has gotten a little more intensive and the travels are often not suited for an entire family.
It was also a good test: would they prefer having a home somewhere?
The answer, as it turned out, was an unequivocal no. They never really took to life in Maine. My daughter Petra never really established those friendship bonds that sedentary people tend to have; my wife had little interest in reestablishing herself in the town that she grew up in. It was almost like they were travelers who just didn’t go anywhere.
It was time to go.
So around two months ago they split.
We went to Taipei and then Kinmen. In a few days we go back to Taipei and then Australia.
Life has normalized. We’re back to how we were living during Petra’s first three years.
While Petra was a born traveler when young — never really cried on airplanes, took long bus journeys well (besides the puking, which she couldn’t help), and loved trains — Rivka was a little more ordinary. She would try to get out of her seat when the seatbelt light was on on airplanes, she cried on buses, she threw things on the floor on trains. She wasn’t bad, just normal.
It made us realize how unusual Petra was in this regard.
It also made us realize that we could have a bit of a problem. How can you travel with a kid who doesn’t want to travel?
Eventually, a change started happening. She’d get off a bus here on Kinmen and start calling out to get back on it. She’d see a bus and she’d run after it, yelling “Bus, bus” with a big smile on her face. She’d start talking about airplanes positively. She began having a blast riding in cars. Going for rides on the moped that I rented is probably her favorite thing to do . . . She stands up with her hands on the handlebars and just looks around loving it.
She started liking the act of traveling. It seems to have eventually clicked for her: traveling is something that you do, like an activity, and not a disruption … and it can be fun.
Let’s see how the flight to Australia goes.
But one thing makes me feel positive about it: she really takes an interest in other people. She watches people. When they do something interesting or strange or something she doesn’t get, she walks up to them, points, and tries to talk. That, right there, is the recipe for enjoying travel.
So Rivka turned two today. She got pancakes in the morning, visited a pet shop, went to the beach, ate at a restaurant that she likes (because they use plates for kids in the shape of airplanes and cars), had some cake in our guesthouse, played with the presents that I rode a motorcycle through a typhoon to get, and now she is yelling things that she finds funny from her bed.
Birthdays kind of bookmark the places that we travel. For some reason I try to remember where I was for each of my birthdays. For Rivka, she turned one in Pristina, Kosovo; she turned two in Kinmen, Republic of China.