Sometimes when we visit a place, we see every last inch of it, chew it up, drain the dregs, and belch comfortably as our train rolls away from the station. Sometimes, we get a taste of the place and enjoy it so much that we’d like to go back. That’s what we did with 24 hours in Salzburg.
In my previous post about this homeschool project, I decided not to call it a gap year, but a Ferris Bueller Year. “Gap year” sounds like you’ve dropped off the face of the earth, but “Ferris Bueller year” sounds like you shucked off society to go do something that was good for you. Kid 3 is a year too young for his grade, so we decided to take him out of school for a year between middle and high school and travel while we let him catch up. So far, so good!
During the last few years, one of our children went through a mental health crisis. We were at a loss, not knowing what our options were and being thwarted at every turn by our insurance company and conflicting medical advice. Eventually, with love, hard work, prayer, medications, doctors, and flexibility, things came right again, albeit at a new normal. Here are some things I learned, and I hope that if you find yourself in this situation this gives you some direction.
Our family has, by design, stayed in every kind of accommodation during our travels: hostels, hotels, motels, time shares, relatives’ couches, glamping, Airbnb, and our youngest kid was an actual Boy Scout who camped. (My husband and I camped before children, then gave up when the babies started coming.) We stayed in a variety of places because we want our children to be ready for anything, no matter what their circumstances or income. We want them to be able to live out of a suitcase, haul their own stuff, sleep wherever, eat what’s put before them, and treat everyone they meet with respect.
Let’s not call it a gap year. That sounds like you fell in a crevasse for a year. Let’s call it The Ferris Bueller Year. Kid 3 will get some fresh air and sunshine, see the sights, and gear up for high school.
My parents divorced when I was young, and we went to the then-common method of splitting up the child’s time: living with the mom, Thursday dinner and every other weekend with the dad. My father was an introverted farmer, older than most dads, and Thursday evenings were awkward. We’d sit in a restaurant in our small town, chewing silently. The weekends were better, because he lived with his mother on the farm, and I adored my grandmother and she adored me. I chased chickens, slept on the pull-out sofa with the cats, played in the grain silos, and learned to drive at the ridiculous age of 9. I did all that with my grandmother, except for the driving, which my dad taught me. My dad stayed in the background.