And Speaking of Adventures….

Yesterday Bruce crossed over the Mexican border with our son in law JC, driving a loaded truck and trailer filled with equipment– tools, mountain bikes, paddle surf boards– for JC’s tourist hotel on Lake Atitlan, Guatemala.

I knew traveling in Mexico would be tricky.  As recently as July, 2013, the U.S. issued a traveler safety alert for Mexico; not even U.S. officials and their families drive in certain areas. So there’s Bruce and JC, having to cross at a different border station than originally planned due to complications at the Brownsville, Texas crossing. And then to get to the safest Mexican toll road they had to travel 90 miles on an off road.

For 75 miles of this road, they were harassed by a car with red and blue flashing lights, trying to get them to pull over. (It was 7 a.m. Apparently Mexican bandits get an early start to their day.) JC’s instincts said no and he kept driving. When I talked to Bruce via Skype at the end of the day, they were both still pretty shaky. I didn’t get complete details but I’m sure I will later when he gets back to our comfy suburban home in the good old U.S. of A.

After our Skype conversation I was feeling really stressed and calmed myself down by sorting through the family history boxes. Well, did that ever open my eyes! Seeing letters and photos with all the drama of raising our kids capsulized in these nuggets of information, I realized something.

I realized that danger to our loved ones is not just outside threats to health and safety. It comes from within the walls of our homes too.

  • Distracted parents unaware of serious problems going on with their children.
  • Getting out of control on spending and finances so that the pressure builds and makes everything worse.
  • Inviting people into your family circle you think are safe but who pose a silent, subtle threat to your children.
  • Forgetting how much you love your kids and yelling at them until they think you hate them.
  • Focusing on getting them stuff like music lessons, sports events, cool shoes for school, and ignoring the quiet conversations that really build their self-esteem.
  • All sorts of other obvious things like crap TV and video games.

Oh my gosh, I thought to myself as I thumbed through one item after another. These things were screaming at me:

You think Mexico is dangerous? You think Guatemala might not be safe? Look at what your family has been through the past 20 years! You’ve all been navigating some mighty treacherous waters, right here in the haven which is Utah. Right here in River City (not its real name), one of the best and most desirable and safest towns on the entire planet.

I don’t care where you live, because the world becomes an incredibly scary place once you have children, especially as they approach the teen years. Driving for 90 miles on a Mexican off road in bandit territory is NOTHING compared to the dangers of getting those kids safely from age 10 to 20.

Advice to parents about to embark on this journey: Lose your expectations and just love that child today, as is.

Never mind, I can’t give advice. I made so many mistakes with my children, especially with the older ones, and then I got a little better with the middle ones but not much. The last three did fairly well in their teens because I finally learned one lesson: to love them right now, as is, and say “oh well” about the rest.

With the last three, I toned down the lectures (another word for rant) and said “oh well” an awful lot.  But then again, maybe I was just tired.

Traveler’s Advisory Warning: This is not parenting advice, because I have none. Just do your best and love your kids. Especially when they are at their most unlovable.

All 8 of the Gowen boys. The girls barely gave me any grief at all, so I'm just showing the boys for this post.

All 8 of the Gowen boys. The girls barely gave me any grief at all, so I’m just showing the boys for this post. How did we all survive, I ask myself.

16 thoughts on “And Speaking of Adventures….

  1. mirkabreen

    “Advice to parents about to embark on this journey: Lose your expectations and just love that child today, as is.”
    Amen. And thank you.
    Glad Bruce and JC have good instincts.

  2. Elizabeth

    You’re so right about the hidden dangers we live with. We need to appreciate our children every day and help them build their self-esteem. I hope your husband and son-in-law stay safe!

  3. Karen D

    I’ve always admired the individuality of your children and your parenting style. As each of mine came with their own personality your advice to ” love that child today, as is ” couldn’t be more relevant.

  4. Natalie

    That made me cry…first with tears of thanks for you raising my fabulous husband and then tears of fear for the teen years that are in the not too distant future.

  5. Old Kitty

    Oh wow!! Look at all your beautiful boys!! Awwww! They got your gorgeous looks, KarenG!
    And they are doing you very proud indeed! And you gave them lots of common sense – they listen to their instincts and survive the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune! Yay! Take care

  6. Arlee Bird

    I don’t think I would want to drive through Mexico these days and I would have fears about Central America as well. However prior to my vacation to Ecuador this past summer I was hearing all sorts of warnings and was very nervous. My fears were allayed though after having no problems and nary an indication of any potential incident. Maybe safety warnings in other countries are blown out of proportion.

    Wrote By Rote

  7. Michael Di Gesu

    Wow, you have such a large family… I’d say you are The right person to hand out advice… raising a family is so tough these days…

    Your boys look really happy…. that says a lot about their mother…

  8. hilarymb

    Hi Karen .. I can imagine you had your fair share, and a few others’ shares, of scary life with teenage kids .. and I bet they goaded each other on- but seems to me … you got a pretty good crew here … and they’ve all enjoyed themselves … cheers and many happy times – sure hope all is well and they are safe and sound … Hilary

  9. Dee Ready

    Dear Karen, I remember years ago–1972-73, when I was teaching high school juniors in Claremont, NH. At one point during the school year, one of the students in the class said, “Ms. Ready, we wish you were our age. All of us could do things together.” And I thanked him because that was such a compliment, but I added, “You know, I wouldn’t want to be your age today because you all have life so much harder than I did back in the 1940s and ’50s.” They asked what I meant, and I mentioned drugs and sexually explicit movies and the Vietnam War and other things.

    Today–some forty years later–life seems even harder for young people. They must have so much fortitude and courage to ford the turbulent waters of youth. Peace.

  10. Susan Gourley

    I remember when my children were born how I thought having infants was so much work and so difficult. Little did I know. Those years are the easiest time to be a parent. Parenting isn’t a job for wimps.


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