Good Kids — How To Travel The World With Your Kids…And Actually Enjoy It. With Reza Aslan, Jessica Jackley and their kids
[00:52] [Child babbling]
[00:55] Reza Aslan: That’s not what I sound like. That’s not what I sound like. I am Reza Aslan.
[01:05] Jessica Jackley: And I’m Jessica Jackley. And this is Good Kids. So this is our crazy, wonderful family. Let’s all go around and say our names. I’m Jessica.
[01:16] Jasper: I am Mr. Weirdo.
[01:19] Reza Aslan: Otherwise known as?
[01:20] Jasper: Jasper.
[01:22] Sirus: I’m also a weirdo for some reason and I’m a big nerd. Otherwise known as Sirus.
[01:35] Jasper: And we are geeks for Plants Vs. Zombies.
[01:39] Reza Aslan: And how old are you two?
[01:40] Jasper: Seven.
[01:42] Asa: My name’s Asa.
[01:45] Jessica Jackley: And how old are you? Can you say the word because nobody’s actually filming this on a video. It’s just for our ears. So can you say the number that you held up just now?
[01:55] Asa: Four.
[01:56] Reza Aslan: And we are the Jackley-Aslans, or sometimes referred to as the JackAsslans.
[02:02] Jessica Jackley: Nobody ever refers — they shouldn’t, that’s our answer.
[02:06] Reza Aslan: Last summer we did something a little bit crazy. We went on an 80-day journey around the world. How many countries did we visit? Anybody remember?
[02:19] Sirus: 60.
[02:21] Reza Aslan: 60?
[02:22] Jessica Jackley: Did it feel like 60?
[02:24] Reza Aslan: It felt like 60. The reason that we went on this trip — A, because traveling is really important for us. It’s kind of one of our family values.
[02:36] Jessica Jackley: Well, adventure, and ideally traveling. Traveling is really easy way to have automatic adventures. We love to do adventures.
[02:42] Reza Aslan: That’s right.
[02:43] Jessica Jackley: We love to learn and explore,
[02:46] Reza Aslan: We even have our own family adventure theme song.
[02:49] Jessica Jackley: Well, but that’s not —
[02:51] Reza Aslan: It goes like this: Adventure family! The family that goes on adventures! Together, forever.
[03:01] Jessica Jackley: Yeah. So are you revealing on this podcast your secret that you make songs for literally every —
[03:07] Reza Aslan: That’s it. That’s our adventure song.
[03:12] Jessica Jackley: So we’ve always had a dream of traveling around the world with our boys and we didn’t want to just go and do anything and see anything. We wanted to do it in a very thoughtful way. We wanted to explore the whole world together through the lens of belief. We wanted to understand not just the world’s religions. Those are part of it, but also belief more generally. So we did look at lots of major — thank you for the kiss — lots of major religious sites. We had really interesting experiences in churches and synagogues and mosques and all sorts of things.
[03:50] Sirus: Wait, what’s a synagogue?
[03:52] Jasper: A synagogue is a church for Jews.
[03:58] Jessica Jackley: I have a question. Jas, this is just about what you believe, not — you know, we’ve studied so many different beliefs and cultures and ways of thinking. What do you believe? What do you think is the best way for God to hear a prayer? Do you think it has to be written down? Do you think it has to be stuffed in a crack in a wall? Do you think needs to be said out loud, or can you say it in your head, silently in your heart?
[04:23] Jasper: It could be any of those. As long as you believe that God can hear you. It probably will work.
[04:33] Jessica Jackley: Jas. That’s really lovely. I think that, too.
[04:41] Jessica Jackley: We get it, we understand travel with kids is hard. So this — the faces that some of our friends and family gave us when we announced this is what we were going to do.
[04:50] Reza Aslan: Strangers on the road! Like, what?
[04:51] Jessica Jackley: Like, oh, they look sick to their stomachs. Yeah. But the truth is, I think, you know, as with all things — it’s gonna sound so cheesy and I might make enemies here — you know, if you set the standards really high and just spend a lot of time queuing it up, setting expectations — now we’re about to go on this plane. It’s going to be 17 hours, or whatever it was. I think one of our longest flights was like 12.
[05:14] Reza Aslan: To New Zealand.
[05:15] Jessica Jackley: And here’s the little mini-schedule that we have. You’re going to — we’re all going to sit and look out the window for two hours. We’re all going to read. Then you get a movie. Then you get this — to kind of pace it out, give them high standards and expectations and, you know, you can call it bribing. But to be able to say, yeah, you can do the following things to earn a little screen time when we’re in transport. So that was huge. I mean, we’re pretty mean with screens regardless. Like they don’t watch anything during the week. Planes and trains equals screen time to that. That’s whaty they associate it with. So they were very, very — they were very well-behaved because they knew that was a part of it.
[05:48] Reza Aslan: I’ll just tell one last anecdote on this note, which is that this was a previous trip that we went to. We went to New Zealand and Australia. And, you know, it was a few weeks of a trip. And one of our boys said something about halfway through the trip about how he was like, I just, I want to go home. I want to go back home. And we said, oh, you know, we’re going to go home soon and it’ll be great and you’ll have your bed again. And and and all that you do is.
[06:15] Jessica Jackley: Your toys and your blanket.
[06:16] Reza Aslan: He said, no, no, no, not home. Home, you know, where we sit down and there’s this screen in front of us. He was describing an airplane.
[06:25] Jessica Jackley: It was such a long flight.
[06:27] Reza Aslan: It was basically like simultaneously the proudest and also saddest moment of our lives as parents.
[06:35] Jessica Jackley: And we milked that whole your kids fly free when they’re under two. I mean, the twins had — they had racked up some pretty thick passports.
[06:41] Reza Aslan: The point is, is that it’s not easy, but —
[06:45] Jessica Jackley: Allow them to participate.
[06:46] Reza Aslan: Yeah. Allow them to participate. Give them certain expectations and they will always meet them.
[06:50] Jessica Jackley: Yeah.
[08:14] Sirus: So my favorite place was Tokyo, because that’s where I learned to do Zen meditation. And Jasper really, really, hates it. So that means he never uses the Zen garden we built in our backyard.
[08:33] Reza Aslan: Can you can you explain what a Zen garden is?
[08:34] Sirus: A Zen garden is this place where you do Zen. Now I will explain to you how you do Zen.
[08:41] Reza Aslan: Okay. Explain how you do Zen.
[08:43] Sirus: This is what Zen is. So you just sit criss-cross applesauce like I’m doing. You do like a meditation pose, but except you keep your eyes open. Stare on something. You can blink but you just stare at it for a long time. And if you move, except for blinking, or speak, then you stopped doing them.
[09:16] Reza Aslan: And do you think about anything while you’re meditating?
[09:19] Sirus: Yeah. So if — so people try to bother you. But if someone bothers you, you don’t try to ignore it.
[09:37] Jessica Jackley: And like, you know, just let it let it pass along.
[09:39] Sirus: Yeah. Pass along, let it go.
[09:41] Reza Aslan: Let it wash over you.
[09:43] Jessica Jackley: And we talked about like imagine if you put a little leaf in a river, and you saw it, and you watched it pass, and then it went out of your sight. And that’s that.
[09:51] Reza Aslan: And when you do Zen — Si, when you want to do Zen, when do you do it?
[09:56] Sirus: Pretty much when you’re like sad or angry or —
[10:00] Jasper: Or when you just want to do it.
[10:01] Reza Aslan: Or when you just want to do it.
[10:02] Sirus: Yeah, because I want to do it a lot.
[10:05] Reza Aslan: I think it’s really important for us that our kids see themselves as global citizens, that they’re part of the world. I mean, they get their school, they get their neighborhood. But we want to make sure that they understand how big the world is. And I mean, just little, little things like, you know, what’s a lemonade in Paris? And what is a milkshake in Italy — is so different, you know. And it sounds silly and small, but those little things, those little experiences have taught them that the world is different. That there are different cultures and different practices around the world, different beliefs. But then at the same time, I think they’ve also really understood experientially how alike we all are, as well. And it’s something that we just want to foster forever. And it’s not easy. I mean, you’re talking about two 7-year-olds and a 4-year-old and 80 days, 13 countries —
[11:05] Jessica Jackley: Well, it was six, six and three at the time.
[11:07] Reza Aslan: Yeah, that’s right. They were six and three. Like 20-something cities. You know, for us, our kids have just been traveling as long as they can remember. I mean, Jasper’s first words were Abu Dhabi, which is awesome because it sounds like a made-up word.
[11:21] Jessica Jackley: It does.
[11:22] Reza Aslan: But it’s not.
[11:23] Jessica Jackley: You know, it’s funny, too, because I don’t think we’re alone in this belief that it’s better to have experiences than things, especially with our kids to teach and that that’s what we’re about. We’re about adventures, not about a new plastic toy or something. And when you’re on the road, rainy days and everybody has just carry on luggage, it’s sort of intense. But we got to watch how, you know — the spare toilet paper roll in the hotel. Like when that was available, it was highly sought-after because they would make it into — because they would be able to make it into whatever toy or thing they wanted to invent in the moment. So we got to watch them just travel around with very, very little and make things happen, make things fun, make toys.
[12:07] Reza Aslan: A lot of people have said something like, oh, how do you expect your kids to remember that experience? I think you would be surprised. Like it’s sunk into them. Even, Isa, you know, every once in a while will say something about something that happened in Egypt, or you know, some experience that happened in China. And, you know, it’s not so much that we want them to remember specific experiences. It’s more an expansion of their mind.
[12:36] Jessica Jackley: And we want them to just feel at home in the world.
[12:38] Reza Aslan: Yeah, that’s it. We want them to feel at home in the world. That’s the perfect way of saying it.
[12:42] Jessica Jackley: Why, thank you.
[12:46] Good Kids is produced and edited by Samantha Gattsek. Our executive producer is Stephanie Wittels Wachs. Our music is by Dan Milad. Ad sales and distribution is by Westwood One. You can find more about us at LemonadaMedia.com or on all the social platforms at @LemonadaMedia. If you like what you heard, share the gospel with everyone you know and rate and review us on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever else you listen to podcasts.
[13:13] Jessica Jackley: Asa, how do you say —
[13:16] Asa: Ciao? Ciao?
[13:17] Reza Aslan: Ciao. Yeah, we said ‘ciao’ in Italy.