Raising Adventurous Kids

Remember that day when we so wanted to know our kids could be adventurous and travel on their own?! I think it’s come…

I remember several houses ago (we measure our world in moves and houses, not in years!) when my brother Stan and his family were on a short leave in the United States. Their home was in Kazakhstan and Stan and Tami came with their daughter, Lauren, while their son, Mark stayed in school in Pakistan. He joined them at Christmas time, flying alone at 15 years old, from Pakistan to the United States.

At the time we were living in Essex, Massachusetts. Essex is a small town. I have been told that, with just over 3,500 people in the 2010 census, it is not large enough to have a jail. Essex is a beautiful town just minutes from the ocean. Essex is a white town. There was one child that had some color in his skin but he was a foster child and so did not stay long in the town. While most of the country thinks of “out west” as Colorado, many people in Essex consider Worcester, Massachusetts, a mere hour west of Essex, to be “out west”. I realize I may sound bitter, I’m not. It is just to give the reader a sense of what it was like for our family of 7, coming from Cairo, a city of 16 million people, to a town of 3,500 where you were not considered part of Essex unless your relatives had been there since the time of the Salem Witch Trials.

The longer we lived in Essex, the more concerned we became that our children would not know how to be adventurous. That they would opt for the easier road and wake up to regrets at fifty years old. It just seemed so easy to relax and settle  in this beautiful little town, with charming homes and Woodman’s fried clams. As we  watched Mark come and go, passport and backpack in hand, we were wistful. That’s what we thought out children would do. But at the time, our activities were primarily adventure camps in the summer, trips to Florida over spring break, and yelling at school principals for not letting our oldest wear a black boa to 8th grade graduation (blog post to come).

It is this I remembered today as I sent the message to my husband “Remember that day when we so wanted to know our kids could be adventurous and travel on their own?! I think it’s come….“. I’m chuckling a bit at God’s marvelous sense of humor as I pray for my oldest, stuck in a friend’s apartment in Cairo, Egypt. The picture below is her street. Her apartment? The entrance to the left of the small green and red sign in the center of the picture. The souq near her apartment was on fire yesterday, and there is so much tear gas that you can’t walk through the area.

Annie's Street, Bab al-Louq, Cairo, Egypt

To say that our wish came true is an understatement! Annie has made more trips overseas than I can count. She has been to Brazil and Tunisia, Berlin and the Sinai. She has ridden horses in Dahab and held protest signs in Tahrir Square. And she’s just one of 5. Every one of our kids has so much adventure in their DNA that we will be lucky to have time with grandchildren.

So now? Do I wistfully wish they were all home for Thanksgiving? A bit. Do I wake up nights, praying deeply that their adventurous spirits would be protected by the God I love? A little. A lot. But am I proud of them? You betcha!