I love taking my kids on adventures.
I want them to live life, enjoy experiences together and have meaningful memories to last a lifetime. I always set one rule for each trip: I want them to try a new food or do something that’s out of their comfort zone.
Last summer we went to Prince Edward Island where highlights included clam digging and lobster trapping. During the March Break, we went to Quebec City. We saw the Ice Hotel, went dog sledding and snow tubing.
I have to be very particular about where we go. They are boys and they’re seven and eight. They love to play and wrestle, touch and explore. This rules out museums, places in which they are required to walk great distances and anywhere they will be expected to behave quietly.
This summer, I sort of broke the rules. I went with my kids and parents to see the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
I have to say it was a long drive in which they were required to sit for hours on end. We watched the same Mr. Bean movie again and again (AND AGAIN). We also had time for the entire Diary of a Wimpy Kid DVD series. In fact, by the time we accounted for bathroom breaks, meals, gas, and traffic, it took eight hours to get from Toronto to Cooperstown.
But once we got there, was it ever worth it. The whole town is tiny—it consists of maybe 2,500 locals—but it’s quaint and historic and like nothing I’d seen before. The houses around the main “downtown” strip are decked out in red, white and blue. There are American flags and banners hanging from every house. I’d be surprised to find a more patriotic town anywhere. I guess that’s to be expected in the place in which baseball was born.
The natural beauty was incredible as well. The trees were green and lush, the manicured lawns were expansive and the lake sparkled a dark shade of blue. The air smelled fresh and clean and there were flowers everywhere. It’s like cottage country with boats on the water and people milling about, but smaller and more special somehow.
This beauty might have been lost on my boys, but it was still heaven for them. There was ice cream at every other shop in town. There were souvenir stores and places to buy baseball t-shirts, hats, and cards. We took our time exploring each shop, posing in a photo booth and looking at vintage 1930s baseball gloves before buying a new hat each and even a box of Cracker Jacks.
And then there was the Hall of Fame itself. We walked into town and went to—gasp—a museum! It was well worth it. As we explored the museum, my dad explained the exhibits. He made it fun and interesting and cool. He himself was in awe of finally making it to the Baseball Hall of Fame with two of his grandsons and his excitement rubbed off on my kids. I have photos of them, their arms around each other, looking at the Hall of Fame inductee room. It was neat seeing my kids take photos of plaques dedicated to baseball players they’d heard and read about but never seen.
We were right at the centre of history. We watched The Outlaws, a minor league team, play at a stadium just outside of Cooperstown. My kids were thrilled to have the players autograph a ball. It is said that Babe Ruth once played at that exact field. In Cooperstown, we checked out the legendary Doubleday Field, the birthplace of baseball, and even walked the grounds of Dreams Park, where little leaguers compete in tournaments every year. We laughed, we ate and we enjoyed being together.
It was a great way to spend three days, even if this trip broke all the rules. We didn’t do anything scary. We didn’t go outside our comfort zone. We sat for long periods and had to behave. We even went to a museum.
The whole experience has made me think, and perhaps even reevaluate my philosophy on vacationing with my boys. We had a perfectly good time doing something more ordinary. Maybe my kids are getting older. Maybe the baseball theme made it worth it. Maybe they just appreciated the chance to be with me and their grandparents and have a break from all the adventures we’ve been taking lately.
Perhaps our little trips don’t have to be over-the-top exciting going forward. Perhaps I don’t have to try so hard to entertain them. I suppose it’s possible I was trying to overcompensate for being divorced by planning adventures rather than trips.
What I do know is that we had a great time. And we had quality time together. This is the kind of trip that still checked all the boxes. I hope these memories will last a lifetime.