Spring Break in Arizona! Our family loved leaving twenty-degree weather in Ohio! With temperatures in the 80s, the water park was just what the doctor ordered to thaw out these old bones. All of my cares and worries drifted away as I floated in the lazy river.
As usual, I planned the entire trip, with some input from the wife. As usual, the kids, who never wanted to be bothered with helping me plan, complained. It is too hot. The kid’s games are rigged. The room is too small. (There are six of us; every hotel suite is too small!) The slides are too steep. The slides are too slow. The wave pool is too small. Lesson one: kids will complain. They come out of the womb crying and complaining, and it doesn’t stop for a very long time. Don’t let the complaints stop you.
However, our kids are getting older and a little more independent. The oldest went to a different pool at the resort and napped. The thirteen year old got hot and bored and went back to the room to read. I, too, got bored, so I grabbed him and we explored the area and had lunch. Lesson two: It is ok to split up and “differentiate” the vacation experience. We do not all love the same things.
One of our family’s highlights was dinner at the Rustler’s Rooste. They had a long horn bull out front, a slide to enter, and a magician who came to the table! The kids had a blast and the food was great! Lesson three: Make it fun!
Next, we drove to Sedona, Arizona, to take a jeep tour and see the beauty of the area. The red rocks of Sedona, sights like my favorite, Snoopy Rock, and the bounces of a jeep going through dry creek beds was a new experience for all of us. It is not even close to sliding in an SUV in the snow and ice and seeing your life flash before your eyes. And an experienced tour guide sharing survival skills, in case she crashes, is also helpful. Lesson four: A knowledgeable guide makes learning fun, exciting, and memorable! Be a knowledgeable teacher!
After the jeep tour, we went to Williams, Arizona, home of the Grand Canyon Railway, where we spent the night and travelled to the Grand Canyon by train. The kids were on their Ipads, and my wife and I enjoyed the scenery and the relaxing ride. Once at the South Rim, we took a bus tour to see different viewpoints of the Canyon. Of course, the teens had to inform us that the Canyon was all the same: “Look there is are layers of rocks over there and over there.” And, “Wow, there is the big ditch again…” Interestingly, they, and especially the wife, were all a little nervous about venturing toward the edge. I wasn’t and when I saw a ledge about 4 feet below the rim I was standing on; I had to jump. I landed, waited for the gasp, and peeked over the rocks… “April Fools!” Don’t be mad at me. Several years ago, the wife cried to me that she was pregnant with number five. Then, she said, “April Fools!” Lesson five: when you can play with people’s minds, do it! Then, keep your kids away from the edge…
We spent the night at one of the National Park’s lodges. We told the kids we might hike into the canyon. The next day, the wife informed me that she was very nervous and afraid about hiking into the canyon because the boys tended to push each other. Apparently, she did not like the idea of having one brother push another down the side of the cliff. We only hiked two miles, and downhill was easy, but the children realized what a hike it was. We met people hiking up from the bottom with children the same age as ours with backpacks and not complaining. Without any prompt from us, our children realized that others had it harder. Lesson six: Once we can see the hardships of others, we learn we could have life (or English class) worse.
In the end, the kids agreed the best part of the trip was the hike. The hike that pushed them, challenged them, and made them feel good about accomplishing something. It was a reminder that our job as parents and teachers is to give challenges to the kids; to allow them to push them to be better. Lesson seven: Challenge the kid! They want it and they grow!
What lessons do you learn from trips?