The most odd part about raising kids is that what I think is important or relevant or exciting or memorable is often completely forgotten. The trips we take, trips in which I have slaved over details and planning and spreadsheets, well, those aren't important to the kids. Not necessarily.
But if you ask the kids how we dealt with the tornados of Aprill 2011, Tony will stoutly tell you, "We had a great adventure."
Right or wrong, I take this as a major parenting win.
And we continue to forge that path when the unexpected finds us.
I wrote last week about the oppressive heat, which led to a great part of our coast then experiencing surprise thunderstorms that robbed them of power for a week. IN OPPRESSIVE HEAT.
While we were fortunate enough to maintain our power - we're experiencing a pretty devastating drought here in Alabama, so no thunderstorms found their way down here - my heart went out to the folks in D.C. and Virginia and Maryland who were without power. We are no strangers to power outages.
What we've learned - through trial and error, make no mistake - is that our attitudes are what determine how the kids cope. And while that's certainly not groundbreaking as far as parenting is concerned, it is something that we have to remind each other every time something like this happens.
We're not unrealistic. During April of 2011, the state of Alabama had several hundred deaths from one day of tornados. No one had any power, and we were all relying on word of mouth and radio to get news out. While we weren't 100% honest about what was happening beyond our house - we were fortunate enough that our neighborhood suffered only minor damage - we were very honest about what had happened ("There's a lot of people who need help right now,") and what we were facing ("We may not have power for a while, but we are still very, very lucky").
And that's where we began with Adventures.
Since then, "adventures" are pretty standard ways of reminding all of the adults that we're not in control. It's an unspoken code that we are all in this together, and we should be patient and upbeat about what's happening. It also means copious amounts of candy and games should be not only tolerated, but encouraged.
Power outages mean lanterns at night. They mean tiki torches, and fireflies that are easier to see and catch. They mean we need to eat all of the ice cream before it melts. They means long nights of sleep and days spent outside if the weather allows it. They mean checking in our neighbors and making sure they're okay. They mean giving to others where we can, and accepting help if we need it.
This weekend, we took the boys to visit Chattanooga, a place we escaped to for a night or two during the massive power outage in April of 2011. And when we non-chalantly quizzed the boys about what they remember of the tornadoes, they remember the things we've mentioned up there. They remember the Adventure.
Getting lost while driving somewhere? An Adventure.
Unexpected trip to the airport for a delayed flight? An Adventure.
No A/C? An Adventure. (For the kids, totally. For me? TOTAL TORTURE.)
But that's just it. Somehow, listening to the abundant giggles as the lanterns make their way in and out of bedroom as a massive hide-and-seek game of epic proportions rages on? It makes you momentarily forget the heat and realize that it's going to be okay.
Grown-ups need Adventures too. Sometimes it takes the kids to remind us.
What Adventures have you instituted in your family?