We tend to remember our story in things that happen. The time we hurt ourself badly on the monkey bars; the embarrassing moment in front of a class room; the difficult transition into adulthood. We tell these stories from our perspective and then write them upon our hearts; as scars, wounds or celebrations.
These are our stories of what happened and if we tell them back to ourselves often enough they block out other stories from our past that we would be better-off remembering.
I remember our last road trip. There were many fights between the boys. There was crying because of being hurt by another, they were mad at each other for being annoying, they were tired of sitting next to each other.
Grumpy kids equals grumpy adults. Grumpy adults means that new trips are considered by distance and how likely the kids are to get into a fight. I was not eager to travel long distance again because of the pain from before.
Kids will be Kids
The problem with taking past experiences into consideration is that you are less likely to take the leap into a new adventure. So watching others take their own adventures from the sidelines is what I have been doing.
Kids should allowed to be children. Traveling in cars is boring to the uninitiated and unpracticed. Being dragged by your parents somewhere that is not interesting, or is a surprise, can be uninspiring.
We got in the car with the kids, on a nice day for a long drive that should take us further than 9,000kms through Australia. We had not practiced, we had to learn as we were on the road.
The boys are learning (slowly) that traveling takes patience with everyone. The older boys are fighting less when they are together. Sometimes it falls apart with a brawl in the backseat, for most of this travel they have been finding things to do or talk about to alleviate their boredom.
Joash is patient in the car, he occasionally will make a noise, but for the most part he takes it well, opting for a colouring book, something to read or just to look out the window.
Elijah is boisterous. He is easily bored. Usually as soon as the door is closed and we find the open road he starts yelling "I'm hungry!". Really, he is bored and nothing entertains him by choice, he must be tricked into being entertained.
Elijah is learning how to travel. I can find him frustrating yelling from the backseat, but he is four years old and he is aloud to be bored. It is up to me to think about and approach the situation with a different mind.
Adeline gets bored after a long stretch of driving, when she is well rested. She loves to run about and roll in the dust, not to be stuck in her seat for 4-5 hours a day. Who can blame her?
For Adeline we just get her something to eat, read a book or talk to her. She loves that close connection so we need to make an extra effort.
Fear is What Keeps Us Here
We can all be scared to do things again because of bad experiences with children. Doing a long road trip was not something I would have considered as fun. I was looking at the past instead of looking toward the future.
Will the kids get bored and find it difficult to travel long distances? Sure they will. But how will they get the chance to change that if they never go on a road trip? How will they get to experience Australia as a whole country if they stayed at home?
It would have been silly of me to pass up a road trip because of past experiences but that was all I could think about. A band I listen to has an album called "Fear is What Keeps Us Here", and it does. The fear to experience those bad things again keeps us from doing something new.
How do you get to see Uluru without driving the hundreds of kilometres through salt-bush and red sand? How do yo get to experience the vast outback along open roads, under the burning sun with not a cloud in the sky, without driving? How could I let my kids grow up in Australia only ever seeing the East Coast?
Getting in the car was the best thing we could do to combat bad travel experiences. We are finding our groove and finding how to travel.
A Problem Encountered is Experience Gained
Bad experiences give us lessons in what we should not do again. The long road trips before were worth it but I was looking at it wrong. It was scared if ending in the same place, instead of seeing what I did as a mistake. I can change my problems with a bit of thought.
I had written the wrong things on my heart the last time we traveled. I remembered the bad, instead of remembering the good. I was dwelling on the fighting instead of the ways around the fighting. A problem encountered is experience gained; only a dummy would tackle the same problem the same way, and I was a dummy - waiting for the boys to change instead of me.
This time I am trying to see where I can change. What different approach can I take, or how can I view a situation differently. If I can walk away from this thinking about heading out again then we have won the battle, I would be writing the best things on my heart instead of the bad.