We had been traveling for something like twenty straight hours when we finally reached our last signpost–the customs official at LAX. He squinted dubiously at the declaration form we had filled out. “You only spent a hundred dollars in Europe?” he said with justifiable skepticism.
“We bought this sweater,” I said, raising my youngest child’s hand to show off the Benetton cardigan we had grabbed in desperation when he had been cold one day. “Otherwise, all we got were books. Lots and lots of books.” He smiled, waved us on through, and we stumbled our way out of the airport.
The great thing about being on vacation is that my kids read in a way they just don’t read at home when homework takes up their time and makes them reluctant to open any book, and the computer is vying for their attention. This vacation, they were powering through the books they had packed.
They read a lot in London, but they could also watch TV there and we were also at the theater a lot. Once we got to Paris, though, where our internet didn’t work and the shows were all in French, well, they wouldn’t stop reading. Not even when we were walking down the Champs Elysees (see photo).
Anyway, the point is they were reading during every moment of downtime. In the morning, they’d each take a small backpack and put a book in it to read whenever we’d stop anywhere to rest. Sometimes it wasn’t even to rest: we have a photo of my daughter right in front of Notre Dame, calming balancing on a little pillar, making her way through The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks while the rest of us excitedly pointed out gargoyles and the inlaid star that indicates ”point zero” for Paris.