Five Life Lessons I Learned on a Camping Trip: Lesson #4 When the Car Gets Hot, Roll Down the Windows

After three days spent making memories together in a beautiful campground, it was time to pack up and start the trip home. We went through the usual routine of tidying up the trailer and loading everything back into the car next to our three garbage bags full of dirty clothes. The kids of course started asking if we were almost home before we were even out of the parking lot, but we had a decent start on the day and were hoping to be home somewhat early. The morning passed without incident, the kids were all getting along for the most part and no one had melted down yet. We were only about an hour from home when my husband noticed the car was running a little hot. It was warmer out than the other times we had towed the trailer, so the combination of the excess weight and the higher temperatures were causing our engine to get a little hotter than we were used to seeing it. It didn’t help that we were starting to climb upwards towards our beloved foothills. Franz tends to be a worrier, so in order to maintain calm I was trying to Google normal towing temps for our car, which would have been more effective had we not just entered one of the longest dead spots for cell service. It wasn’t hot enough to cause genuine alarm, but the goal was to not let it get hot enough to be an actual problem.

Hot air started pouring into the car as he switched the AC off, giving the engine a little bit of relief from the increasing heat. Did I mention it was warm outside? It took about one minute before I was sweating and another minute before the heat became really uncomfortable. The kids started complaining and begging us to let them roll the windows down. Let me just stop right here and tell you how much I HATE having the windows down. Something about the sound of the wind whipping through the car, and blowing my hair every which way causes my sensory processing to go bonkers. But sitting there in the increasingly warm car, I only had two choices…

Recently my husband and I have been considering different schooling options for our boys. Our oldest is getting by and doing alright in our current school, which is a win for him to be honest, but I wanted him to have something more than just a feeling of being semi adequate at life. There is a local charter school that does things a little differently as far as schedule and content, and we have great friends there who have gone before us and had told us how great it had been for their son who also struggled. It felt like this would be the right thing to do for him…but I was uncomfortable with the decision.

We love our current school. We love the staff, the teachers, the other parents. It’s right down the road from our house, while the new school is farther up the hill. It didn’t make sense schedule wise to just send one kid, which meant uprooting all three of them. The twins would be together, but our oldest would be leaving behind friends he’s had since kindergarten and starting over as the new kid with the only people he knows being in different classes. All of these factors and more were on a constant loop in my mind, and I thought it was going to drive me crazy. Leaving the known for the unknown felt scary, even with literally having three of my best friends and their kids at this new school to welcome us and cheer us on.

The pressure was slowly mounting all year as we watched him struggle just to keep up with the rest of his class, and the catalyst finally came with his third semester report card. Something had to give, and in this instance that something was my sense of security and comfort. We officially decided to enroll them in the new school.

Lets face it, life is not always going to be comfortable. We can find ourselves in situations we really don’t want to be in, but we can’t always just walk away when it’s getting too hot to handle. But maybe we can find the one thing we can do in that season, that moment, to make it a little more comfortable and ease the pressure. Ie: My children have to receive an education, that’s non negotiable (though they have tried their darnedest). Maybe this new school will not miraculously change everything, but the flexibility in schedule it provides could make all the difference for our family as we are in this season where school just is what it is.

After we had made our decision, I sat down with our son and discussed it with him. I went into the conversation a little nervous that he would start a revolt, but I was surprised when instead he told me he thought that sounded good. He would like to try something new and different. The fact of the matter was, all the while I had been worried about the potential discomfort of the future, rather than the current discomfort he was going through. Instead of being afraid of the unknown, he took this move as a life line to something potentially better, and is even excited about it! He didn’t get that from his worry wart parents.

When the pressure rises, we have to make choices that maybe we would never have made without that motivating thing called necessity. The necessity of thriving over just surviving, of growth instead of just comfort. That day in the car, as my sweat started to drip off my face, with the kids starting to complain loudly about it being too hot, my choice was to let them and myself suffer from potential heat stroke, or roll down the windows and be bombarded with wind and loudness. I stubbornly held out for a little bit in the vain hope that the engine would suddenly cool off and I wouldn’t have to be uncomfortable at all, because obviously that would be better! But finally I threw my hands up and we rolled down the freaking windows. And you know what? That was how we ended the trip. Even when the engine cooled off, and we could turn the AC back on, we left the windows down. The kids loved it, they thought it was the best part of the drive home, and truth be told, so did I. It represented a sort of freedom, and wildness. It livened us up, and gave us all permission to be a different version of ourselves than we had been in the quiet enforced, climate controlled car. None of us could understand a word the other was saying, but we sure laughed a lot.

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