I couldn’t have been more than three when we got stuck in Amsterdam on the way to Ghana. I don’t remember much about the Netherlands: but this one thing has stuck with me for years – a love of Edam cheese. I remember being fascinated as a child watching them peel back the red wax wrapped cheese to reveal one the most delectable treats to a juvenile pallet – little rounds of Edam.
I think I was a pain to travel with a as a child. My mom talks about my staying awake and playing for the whole time on the long flight from Houston to Amsterdam. I got the impression that she remembered that trip really well also – but for other reasons than the cheese. I think this is why many parents are reluctant to travel with small children.
Years later while in college I was at a grocery store and ran across wax wrapped cheese again. Mini Babybels – tiny waxed wrapped Edam. It jogged a memory and I bought them, developing a taste again for Dutch cheese. Though Babybels are manufactured in the US now, the love for them was a carryover from an unplanned week in Amsterdam, something that I still enjoy today in my thirties.
Now my point isn’t to travel in order to get your kids addicted to Dutch cheese. My point is that I was three, and traveling created a habit that has lasted my whole life. To see the world and know it starting at a very young age is a blessing that can’t be replicated in any other way. I think traveling young due to my parents work affected me deeply, in ways that I don’t even fully understand. I was three when we were stuck in Amsterdam due to the military coup that broke out in Ghana. So my parents were surprised years later when I started coming home with Dutch cheese.
That was just a short trip, just a few days – the situation in Ghana resolved and I haven’t been back to Amsterdam except for the airport, and flights on KLM (which I do remember as a kid associating the airline with cheese and asking the flight attendant for the “waxy” cheese). But little things build on top of each other and help to form the total of who we are. The cheese is a little thing, but it contributed to a much larger willingness to grow and openness to try new things that has been indispensable as an adult.
For braver, more adventurous kids that want to eat beyond the McDonalds French fries – travel with them. Let them try stuff. You never know what good it may do them down the road.