This summer the Tomato family set out on the ultimate adventure – a five week tour with three weeks in Australia – WITH our 6 year old daughter, Lucy. Recently I discovered the term “Momsician”, or rather, I was called it by a dear friend. This trip really brought that word to life for me....as well as for John, the “Dadsician”. I know we are not alone. We were those people who were picking the brains of our fellow musician parent tribe – asking for tips and tricks to make it all go smoothly. More than tips, we were really just looking for validation. “Was it okay?” “How did it go?” “Would you do it again?”
The short answer to all of those questions is: FANTASTIC. And YES.
People are very quick to say how positive travel can be for young children. They are right. We talked to Lucy about “life school” and how there are certain things you learn at school and certain things you can only learn by putting yourself in new and different situations. We now have a 6 and a half year old daughter who can navigate through an airport like a champ, whipping off her shoes and hoodie and tossing them in the security bins like a boss. She can deal with the limited options for food on a 14.5 hour flight (which was perhaps one of my biggest fears) and just eat the weird mac n' cheese because “At least it's vegetarian, Mom. It's better than nothing.” She can hop in a cab and say hello to our driver with the utmost respect while chit chatting about where we're going and where we've been. She can stay up until 1am (turns out, staying up really late will not actually kill your child) and then rock a red-eye by sleeping the whole time. She can recognize that SHE is the one with the accent and start adopting local vocabulary (like asking for a side of “avo” instead of “smashed avocado”). And when all else fails, we are here to tell you that a child can live on peanut butter and banana sandwiches.
We were very lucky to have help. We couldn't have done it by ourselves. I repeat: we couldn't have done it by ourselves. John's father, “Grampie” Wayne was with us for the bulk of our trip and he was a champion. He was Lucy's everything. Roommate, snuggle buddy, play mate, swim partner, app downloader, shopping buddy, cook, launderer, listener, and general rock. Not only did we have Grampie, we had the “festival family”. If you've been to a music festival, you know that an interesting phenomenon occurs. The rest of the world disappears and you enter into what I like to call the “festival bubble”. Everyone looks out for everyone and we all bond over music, stories, food trucks, and grassy toes. Each place we went, the volunteers and staff went above and beyond to make sure Lucy was comfortable and looked after. She had all access passes, booster seats, oodles of swag, and was the queen of the folk kid parades. Not really, but she felt like it and that's what counts. Thank you to the volunteers at Vancouver Folk Festival for working with her on making art with clay. Thank you to the Broadbeach Country Music Festival for making sure we got to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary and to Emily Holler for going so far as to pick us up and take us out to an amazing vegetarian restaurant on the Gold Coast where Lucy bonded with her son and the two of them played like old mates. Thank you to Mark Lang in Melbourne for making sure we had a place to stay, things to see, singing along to our songs with Lucy during our set, and for just generally being our friend on the other side of the world. Thank you to the volunteers at the Regina Folk Festival – especially the one who gave my mother a sweet new hat and bottle of water when it was super hot out. My mom met up with us in Regina and had never attended a festival before! Also to the team in charge of the little folksters...who set up an environment for all the other folk kids to play together with bubbles, art, costumes, and music. Once Lucy was there, she didn't want to leave.
Did everything go perfectly smoothly on the trip? Nope. Were there days when things were stressful? Yep. But you deal with those things. Life at home isn't always stress-free and smooth either, right? So you handle those things and move forward while focusing on the positive. Life of a Momsician and Dadsician is definitely not always glamorous. But boy is it fun.
Part of our job is to travel. When we combine our family, career, and self fulfillment together, we feel like we are all winning at life.
Is it a huge risk?
Is it worth the risk?
So much yes.