Thursday, December 31, 2009

Frequently Flying

I'm fortunate to have the opportunity to travel with my family from time to time. Travel opens up new horizons for a child. They get direct exposure to different cultures, and places of historical significance are brought to life. And there's nothing like first hand experience of different languages, diets, climates and so forth to realize how big and diverse the world really is. Having been to 15 countries (and counting), my daughter has some appreciation for this.

But travel quickly goes from "opportunity" to "burden" when I go without them. The phone call where she relays the daily digest of her life's events is nice, but being apart means I'm not able to share in those events with her. And while we can innovate our way through this to some extent - it was fun to watch The Grinch together while on speakerphone last month - it's still low-bandwidth interaction. And all-in-all, these work-arounds introduce their own set of disruptions on all of our lives.

It's great being a dad who can introduce his daughter to vastly different parts of the world. But at the moment that's the exception, not the rule. There's little consolation in being a dad who delivers trinkets of travel: they don't replace what was missed, the joy of receiving is short lived, and they're just reminders of time spent apart. Besides, how many city-themed t-shirts from airport shops can one little girl have?

I'd rather just be the dad who is there.