Saturday, April 11, 2015

Re-spon-si-bili-ty is a Big Word

When I was in college my friend Diana, the Frodo to my Sam, shared what is possibly the best children's book in the world with me: The Happy Hocky Family.  It.  Is.  Brilliant.  We would giggle together at the back of our gospel doctrine (aka, Sunday school) class for hours on end at its witticisms.  "I have a balloon."  "What is toys?  We do not know this word."  "I like the alligators!"  Even now it brings a smile to my face, and it does not matter one bit that you have no idea what I'm talking about, but since I'm starting this post out this way, I guess I should give you at least a little background - it's written in the style of the old Dick and Jane books, but is dark and sarcastic.  In one part of the book the sister, Holly, gets an ant farm, which is a big Responsibility, a word which means the ants look to her to take care of them.  To keep them from getting too hot, she takes the lid off the ant farm.  I'm sure you can figure out what happened at that point to Mrs. Hocky's new, shiny kitchen.
Ironically enough, I finished my last post with a soliloquy about how children are a big responsibility.  During the last week, I realized how true that statement really is.  Thankfully they are all almost adults, but I am still responsible for them, and besides the fact that I'd never forgive myself if anything happened to them, I'm pretty sure their parents would have me crucified if they didn't come back in one piece, so needless to say, it's been a pretty stressful week.

Not only did I have to keep track of them, just like ants, children have needs.  I had to find bathrooms.  I had to feed them.  I had to listen to them whine (okay, not that much - they were pretty happy the whole trip, and were healthy apart from a little seasickness and a couple of upset stomachs).  And I don't know if you've picked up on this from the last - wow, it's already been six - SIX years of blogging, but I'm kind of a lone wolf when it comes to travel (and by kind of, I mean almost exclusively, whether I like it or not).  So while I loved sharing traveling with them - and I really mean that, I LOVED spending this time with them and seeing them fall in love with Istanbul while experiencing all sorts of new and exciting things - it was...pardon the Aladdin reference...a whole new world.  When I have traveled with people, we're all adults and if I go off and leave them, it's no big deal, and if any of us decide to alter our plans, well, that doesn't have to affect anyone else.  When traveling with teenagers, every change requires adjustments, and you can't just let them go off on their own.  I gave my kids a lot more freedom than I possibly should have, and we had a few heart-stopping moments when people didn't come back to the meeting point on time, or when there was a miscommunication, but for me, the freedom is part of the experience of traveling as well, and I wanted them to be able to wander a little, to find things on their own, so I gave them as long a leash as I could.  Luckily - to extend the dog metaphor, since we saw a lot of those in the last week - they didn't come back to bite me in the ass, but parents definitely have the advantage in this sense.  It would have been nice to base my judgements on knowing them for 16 years, rather than 2.

Shaggy posted an article on his facebook recently about the value of experiences over things.  Although this wasn't a cheap trip (and that's despite fact that I'm willing to bet it was a steal compared to most student trips) and there were quite a few of our original 20 that dropped out because of financial concerns, I'm pretty sure every one of their parents tonight feel it was money well spent.  They had a fantastic time.  They tried so many new things - which I will be telling you about presently - from Turkish delight to bargaining to painting tiles and belly dancing, and saw so many new things.  They took incredible pictures, and they bonded with each other in a way they don't and can't during school.  All the stress and all the time spent making it happen were so worth it. 

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