I find myself vacillating between positive and negative feelings about leaving our friends and family behind three weeks ago for an extended family trip. As with everything we do, pros and cons exist. Brad and I discussed them at length regarding having to manage our projects from afar while gone, the places we should visit, and the mode of transportation/habitation we should utilize. What we did not discuss was how we may feel, and how we might manage being outside of our Comfort Zone as far as our family goes.
What brings this to the forefront of my mind lately is our extended stays at campgrounds while we visit various parks. It is only natural that you meet your “neighbors”, most of the time. The kids want to play together, you discuss the places you have been and where you are going, and in our case the fact that we are “really far from home” as many like to comment. Along with all this stuff comes the inevitable quizzical glances at Kimberly and her mannerisms, or in some cases a lack of engagement with us all possibly due to uncertainty related to “what’s wrong with that little girl”.
You might think that sounds harsh, I don’t mean for it to come across that way. It’s just a matter of fact. You might think I am being particularly sensitive or reading too much into the behavior of others. It’s possible, but I will refute that with the statement that I can read people quite well. Especially when it comes to this stuff. I even have to catch myself giving off the same vibe if I am on the other side of the equation.
Ironically, a family staying behind us at our current campground had a teenage autistic son. I did not discuss this with them. I spoke to the boy. He did not have a sign on acknowledging his diagnosis, and I could be wrong, but that was the impression I got. He was very nice and knew his state capitals and NFL teams for each city better than the guys at ESPN. In some weird way, I was relieved to meet him. I was happy his family was out “adventuring” and had him along…and were not keeping him from others, allowing their own insecurities and fears to limit their/his life. It happens all the time.
It reminded me to relax. To not worry so much about how the other kids perceive Kimberly when she tags along with Virginia to the playground. To allow the space for good things to happen, knowing that space can also allow the bad, but it’s a risk we have to take.
Outside of our comfort zone: hometown, school, family and friends…it’s a scary place. This trip has been resulting in adventure in ways I would not have anticipated. I am trying to rise to the challenge, I hope our fellow campers do too.