Why bother bringing along a child too young to retain long-term memories with you on a vacation?

05 Sep

I was just reading a story at CBC News about a bad-behaviour-air-travel-passenger-shaming website, and I came across a couple of amusing comments, the second in response to the first:

I like Nick’s idea, but I love Werner’s tongue-in-cheek response.

I have long wondered why people bother taking their very young children, say, above still-nursing age but under three years old (and if your kid is talking, he / she shouldn’t still be nursing), on vacations with them, rather than leaving them with family. Since we don’t generally do ‘wet nurses’ in our society any more, and haven’t for many, many years (and it was mostly only rich who could have those, anyway), I can’t fault a mother who is still nursing for obviously wanting to feed and look after her young child herself, though I also wonder why it’s really that important for her to travel, esp. if it’s a vacation rather than a trip to visit family.

But if the child isn’t still nursing, but is still too young to be able to retain any lasting memories of the trip, I fail to see the benefit to the child of bringing it along, rather than leaving it in the care of a trusted relative or close family friend, assuming the kid wouldn’t be prone to screaming his/her head off and/or crying endlessly for his parents. (If not, then maybe the parents should wait till the kid is older to travel together with them.)

For example, when I was not yet 2 years old, my parents took me on a road trip to a distant part of Canada.

I naturally remember nothing of that trip, whatsoever. (When they took me again in my teenage years, as far as I’m concerned, that was my first trip there. BTW, to be clear, I bear them no grudges; I’m just noting that for all the trouble of travelling with a young infant, said child retained nothing, no memories of that trip at all.)

I do remember some bits of trips across and outside of Canada from between age 3 and 7 or so, say, and I remember most of a trip to the U.K. when I was 9, so clearly I was retaining everything by then.

But what benefit did I derive for being on that trip in my earliest years?

It’s not like I have any memories of the trip; wouldn’t it have been easier for my parents to leave me with my grandmother, or close family friends?  (Possibly cheaper; almost certainly would be so for those taking planes, trains, or ships…)

Or waited a couple years until I could remember it?

I know those who are parents might tell me, “You’re not a father, Will; you just don’t get it.”

That’s right; I retain the ability to approach such matters rationally, coolly detached rather than emotionally.

So yeah, I don’t ‘get it’, if you mean I haven’t unconsciously just accepted that things are the way they are with parenting, and that there are no other possible ways of doing things, in such regards. Yeah, I don’t get it. 😉

Oh well; whatever. Your money, your kids, etc.; not mine.

But please think of others, when you’re flying / taking a train / ship, and your kids are screaming. Give them a bit of cough syrup with DM or codeine, and opiate them a little, please, for the sake of the rest of us. 😉


Posted by on September 5, 2017 in Uncategorized


19 responses to “Why bother bringing along a child too young to retain long-term memories with you on a vacation?

  1. ar10308

    September 5, 2017 at 8:32 pm

    The other factor here might be that they are flying with the baby to see family or relatives.

    • Will S.

      September 5, 2017 at 8:38 pm

      I distinguished between that scenario and a vacation, at the end of my first full paragraph.

      Also, vacation in the title, not family visit.

      • ar10308

        September 5, 2017 at 8:40 pm

        I suppose now is the place to admit that I didn’t fully read what you actually wrote compared to what the original author wrote…

      • Will S.

        September 5, 2017 at 8:42 pm

        I kinda figured that. 😉

  2. Will S.

    September 5, 2017 at 9:00 pm

    I see we have some snark from a would-be commenter who thinks I’m some kind of anti-natalist, with a sarcastic reference to breeders. Suggests it’s out of love that parents bring their kids along.

    You obviously aren’t familiar with this website, and what we stand for here. Though I’m a bachelor, we’re part of a community of Christians, and we believe in marriage, children, etc., even if not every single one of us is necessarily thus called.

    I know my parents love me. But that isn’t a rational reason to expend money when it isn’t necessary. If it takes a non-so-far-breeding, pro-patriarchy-and-family single guy to look at the matter more rationally than you married-with-kids folks, so be it. That may be why I have the gift of singleness, so I can help you all by seeing things more clearly from the outside.

    Anyway, sarcastic, snarky assholes don’t get to comment here. Go snark elsewhere.

    • Will S.

      September 8, 2017 at 11:09 pm

      Oh, and I see your response, snarky.

      I specifically excluded trips to see other family members, which, had you actually read my post in full, you would have noticed.

      And sure you have great memories of spending time with them.

      But they likely don’t recall, same as I don’t recall my early trip.

      Which means, as a vacation, apart from bonding with family members, that aspect was pointless, same as mine was.

      So, I’m still right.


    • speculativeramblings

      September 11, 2017 at 8:14 am

      By the way, have you ever read a Christian refutation to anti-natalism? It bothers me that for a year now, the best refutation that I can find to anti-natalism is “life’s a beach, and then you die,” which is fine if you’re a materialist, but when there is a possibility that the child will go to un-ending hell when he dies, I am very bothered at the concept of people bringing people into existence.

      • Will S.

        September 11, 2017 at 6:56 pm

        No, I’m afraid I can’t say that I’ve ever come across a full-scale, book-length treatment of the subject. I would love to, too, same as you, because while I have read some short essays that basically expand on the Genesis injunctions to take dominion over the earth, etc., I too would like to see someone tackle this matter at a bit greater length. Like you, while not myself anti-natalist, I can see why some might not want to bring children into the world, especially given ‘the problem of evil’, as it has been entitled.

        Suggestions welcome, people!

  3. An observer

    September 6, 2017 at 4:27 am

    I suspect it’s multi level virtue signalling. Taking a trip with young children serves to publicise disposable income (that they can afford It), and supposed parental saintliness (inputting up with the little blighters because it’s good for them.)

    • Will S.

      September 6, 2017 at 5:31 am

      I suppose that could well be it, for some or many parents who do so. That indeed makes much sense to me.

      For perhaps others, they simply feel obligated to do so, thinking it’s expected of them, “you can’t leave your kids with others; what kind of parent would do that?”. In the case of my parents, I suspect such might have been more likely the case, because my parents, while progressive boomers, have never really been keen on virtue-signalling; they’re more old-fashioned, ‘do / say something because you actually believe it’s the right thing to do / say, whatever others think’, kind of folks.

  4. Kentucky Headhunter

    September 6, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    Seeing people push baby-strollers with kids who can’t hold their own heads up yet around Disney World causes me to break out in giggles. Watching them struggle to get on and off buses and trams is more fun than most of the rides.

    The thing I appreciated most about Disney was the logistics. Those people know how get a lot of shit done in a day.

    • Will S.

      September 6, 2017 at 3:24 pm

      I’ve never been to Disney World; that must be amusing, indeed!

      I prefer to have more laid-back vacations, with little set in the way of itineraries for each day. But I do respect those who can accomplish lots in their limited time, certainly. I just find it too much work.

  5. John Q Public

    September 6, 2017 at 5:28 pm

    Gets into difficult questions of, if you don’t remember it, whether it happened. Clearly the kid is conscious of what is going on when he or she is there, and can experience the sensations, whether or not he or she remembers it.

    • Will S.

      September 6, 2017 at 5:36 pm

      Not sure what’s difficult about it. Of course the child is conscious, and responds to stimuli; what so young a child lacks is continuity of consciousness, which takes more time to develop; by around age 3, it seems to be somewhat in place, and definitely by the time the average child starts kindergarten, it is.

      I don’t know anything about neuroscience, but I suspect that by the time a child is capable of reading, they are capable of continuous memory; I suspect the same parts of the brain are required for both, and thus, the development is parallel. I started reading when I was two, and was fairly good at it for a child by the time I was three.

  6. bluebird of bitterness

    September 7, 2017 at 9:54 am

    A lot of us took our babies and small children with us everywhere we went because we didn’t have a choice; it had nothing to do with virtue signaling. As a young mother, I would have sold my birthright to have had trusted relatives living nearby to help me out; unfortunately for me, the nearest relatives were three hundred miles away. Also, my mother died shortly after the birth of my second child, and thus was unavailable for grandma duty in any case — a great loss to my kids, who never got to know the one grandparent they had who really would have loved them.

    This is one of the reasons I’m so happy that my middle daughter and her husband chose to live in the same town where my husband and I live. When their little surprise bundle of joy arrived, I was available to help out, and have been doing so ever since. It certainly makes her life a lot easier, and as a bonus, I get to spend time with my totally adorable grandson (and yes, I am the world’s most obnoxious grandmother — I think everything my grandson does is totally adorable).

    • Will S.

      September 7, 2017 at 11:04 am

      Ah. That makes sense.

      Indeed, it is handy when people don’t move too far away from the nest, or come back close. Certainly makes it easy and cheap for them to find babysitters – and ones who actually care about their charges, being closely related, after all. 🙂

  7. An observer

    September 9, 2017 at 9:35 pm

    From what I’m reading here, it’s possible that we’re trying to compare our recalled experiences with what parental options there are now. Contemporary parents operate under different expectations. As a gen xer, my own parents had no problem with dumping any of their kids with relatives over the school holidays for a week or more in order to have a break from them. It just seemed pretty normal then.

    Bluebell, I’m not trying to invalidate your story or promote defensiveness. I’m familiar enough with the lack of options that limited income brings having experienced that myself. I’m merely pointing out that contemporary parents that have the options of travel with small ones don’t necessarily exercise wiser ones for any number of motivations.

    Virtue signalling can take any number of forms. For my parents it was changing over their car, regularly moving house to ‘better’ neighbourhoods (financed by debt), and forcing the kids to change schools at awkward times. All actions with significant financial and emotional costs. It might not look immediately obvious but virtue signalling it was.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s