Well, that’s kind of a funny thing to write about.
Our first time washing clothes on our road trip is a bit momentous – why? Because we had to do laundry because I threw up on my daughter’s clothes. By day 3 of our trip we had covered 856 miles (from Sacramento to West Yellowstone), and I hadn’t had coffee since we left home. We stayed our first night in Twin Falls, ID, and camped our second night in Craters of the Moon National Park. It was beautiful and challenging, and so far worth every moment. But by the evening of our 3rd day I had a cracking headache.
The headache got so bad that light hurt and I felt like throwing up. Any semblance of parenting disappeared as I crawled into bed in the hotel and desperately tried to fall asleep. What was incredible, though, (and why I’m writing about this) is the way my children stepped up and helped. They tucked me into bed. They got me ice from the hotel ice machine. They quietly put on pajamas and put themselves to bed. When my two little ones saw how badly I was hurting, they massaged my forehead, soft tickled my face, and rubbed my temples. When the opportunity came, they stepped up and showed me that they are much more capable than I give them credit for on a daily basis.
Ultimately, that’s what this trip is all about – giving them opportunities to learn and grow that they don’t encounter in regular life. Going back to school or continuing in distance learning would teach them academics, but nothing at home can teach them to be flexible when the campgrounds are full or to appreciate the awe-inspiring beauty of the sound of a waterfall. At home they don’t have to change their plans to wait for laundry in a hotel laundromat. At home, when they’re hungry, they have a wide variety of snacks available. Out here on the road they have to go along with changed plans, and they have to eat what we have available or go hungry.
Adversity (in the form of travelling challenges) is building their character in ways that no synthetic, virtual academic setting can. Our first load of laundry represented the way all of my girls rose up to the challenge and responded with grace, compassion, and love. They took care of me the way I’m constantly taking care of them – and I saw that even though I feel like a failure a lot more often than I care to admit, I am doing a better job than I think. They are good kids, and this trip will be very good for working out their childish character flaws (like laying in the middle of the rug while your sisters are setting up the tent); when we are at home, I lose sight of working out their childish indiscretions because I am so caught up in the day to day, but, here in the unknown, I have no choice but to address the behaviors that will make their lives more difficult in the long run.