I’ll buy his dinner & Sprite

As soon as my shutter clicked, I knew it was going to be one of those photos – the kind that records a moment that forever marks a life. It would be a photo that would take my breath away for years to come.

On his own he walked to a little nearby restaurant, overcame language barriers and ordered dinner for our family. I caught up to him sipping his Sprite and looking out at the dusty Chinese road. It was his first time to do something independently of his parents in a foreign country. Things like that mark you. When I took the photo I told him he would forever look back and remember this experience. He laughed at me and told me he would forget, but I wouldn’t.

Maybe he will forget. He might forget the details and even the moment, but something changed in him and there is no going back.

This trip is changing him.

It is a strange season as a parent. I am no longer taking pictures of a little guy running around in a costume and wondering what kind of boy he will be one day. This season I am getting a clearer picture of the man he is becoming. Sitting at that little table in a Chinese restaurant was not the 13 year old that boarded a plane in Oklahoma 3 weeks ago. Sitting in that restaurant was a confident young man ready for adventures of his own.

I sure hope one day he invites me to tag along. I’ll buy his dinner and Sprite.


back to top share on facebook tweet this post pin site image email a friend
  • Steffany - Beautiful, Ashley, just beautiful. Your awareness of life is so front and center…puts me in awe and makes me look for the things you see. Seems like you are having a wonderful adventure; I am enjoying, as ever, following along for the outside ride 🙂

  • rarejule - A moment in time, so special and rewarding. Blessings.

  • Jodi Thompson - Ashley, what a beautiful post and a wonderful journey for you and your family!

  • Stacy Hutchens - I’ve read your blog for years, but don’t think I’ve ever commented. This reminded me so much of my younger cousin who spent his summer after high school traveling around Europe… with his grandmother. Tagging along with my kids on their adventures is certainly a goal of mine, but those two gave me a new goal that I’d never even considered!

  • Daenel T. - Absolutely love the photo and the story. What a beautiful memory. My son is now 21 and living on his own (a couple of states away), but every now and then, he sends me a snapshot of himself doing something “grownup” so I can be a part of it. Your photo reminds me of how quickly it goes by and how easy it is to lose that connection. Hold on and keep snapping away.

  • Sandra - Oh boy, isn’t it crazy that its very true that moments like this do mark you and more so far away from home. At least you’re photographing all the moments.

  • ratna - Beautiful photo!

    May I know what how you travel with your camera? What bag did you use to carry (if any)? Or you just hold your camera all the time? My children are younger than yours, I need extra hands to hold camera while trying to enjoy the moments with them.

  • AmyK - This is the reason I read your blog. What a great reminder that the days are long- but the years are short. You must be so proud!

  • Anna - This made me cryyyy. We’ve never met, but I’ve been reading your blog for a long time. I remember your post about this boy’s 8 year old Beaver Birthday Party. My oldest is 7 now and I can just see these days coming. So heart-breaking, but SO EXCITING. Thanks for sharing.

  • jenny - what a beautiful moment. i love the way you share these experiences.

  • Dana - This photo is beautiful. I know just what you are talking about. My daughters and I visited my husband over in South Korea and I was nervous about how they would get along. They amazed me with their curiosity and their willingness to try everything. I marveled at their never-ending wonder. It was amazing and I loved every minute of it. To this day they still look back on photographs from that season and the stories they remember make my heart swell.

  • Jeanne - I’m crying ugly tears. My own 13 year old son is sitting next to me as we read up on the information for a series of classes he is taking at the community college this summer. I get it. I’m so glad you were able to record the moment, and thank you for sharing it with us.

  • AshleyAnn - Anna – that beaver cake still makes me laugh…that whole party was so funny! Thank you for reading for so long!

  • AshleyAnn - Ratna – When walking about I often just carry it in my hand. I don’t need hands free for little ones anymore. When I am not snapping photos, it is in an insulated lunch sack in my backpack. There are little camera bags available, but they are $$$. You can find a small insulated lunch sack (insulation makes it padded) for really cheap and they slide into a backpack easily.

  • Hanna - I teared up by reading your post. I don’t even have children (yet), but your words are so touching. Don’t even know why I sit here and cry. What a gift you have to find words, that make complete strangers go on a emotional rollercoasters. I love to read your blog! Big Hugs from Germany

  • Sarah Card - Oh, Ashley. Tears. What a gift you are giving your kiddos.
    Yes to this! We are sending our 14 yr. old son to Montana (from Wisconsin) on his own for ten days this summer. He’ll be in good hands, yet knowing when he comes home he’ll be changed, brings pause to my beating heart.

  • Fiona - I have loved reading your blog for a while now, but this particular time frame has been an absolute joy to read. Thank you so much for sharing this precious experience. From my perspective children won’t always understand the value of being ‘stretched’ by an unusual experience until much later. It seems like all of you are soaking up everything this trip brings. Thank you, thank you!. Fiona

  • Sarah - Even though my oldest (a boy) is just 7, this made me tear up a bit. Our time is coming! I already see him becoming his own personality and getting more independent. I love the story behind your picture. It’s really a gorgeous photo, and I love the light. It reminds me of something I’d see in Texas Monthly. Indeed, I think he’ll look back and remember that!