Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sibling Friends

When Jeff and I first met one of the things that drew us to each other was a desire for adventure. We both loved to travel, explore, and see what was going on in this big wide world. There was never a question in our minds that as soon as kids came along, they'd just go along with us.

And they did. At one point we had three car seats lined up across the back seat of our Mazda. We went on day trips, overnight trips, and sometimes week long trips. We were never into the Disney thing or the cruise ship thing. We liked finding our own fun. We mainly visited family and explored the things we found along the way.

When our youngest was 18 months old we dove into our biggest adventure. We moved our little family from Missouri, the only place they'd ever lived, across the country to Washington D.C. It was a crazy year, mainly in the good way, although it was also a year after September 11th so the terror alert was set at red and the van was always packed with evacuation supplies. Our children made friends from all over the world and we explored D.C. on weekends, sometimes on foot, sometimes on bikes. It was the year of constant adventure.

A year later we moved across the country again. This time to Utah. The kids made new friends, we got to know new neighbors and we found a pretty great life there. We explored the ski trails in the winter and the gorgeous red rocks of the National Parks in the summer.

Then came our last (and hopefully final) move. When we move, we move big. This time it was all the way back to the East Coast to this state we have come to love called New York. There are new adventures to find in this area and we are slowly exploring them all.

A week ago we had a few days off and decided to go back down to D.C. to see our old stomping grounds. Sam was a two year old when we moved away and he was ready to make his own memories in that city that the big kids kept talking about. We drove down to Philly, had some fun there, then drove on to Baltimore. We walked around the inner harbor and bought the obligatory refrigerator magnets shaped like crabs.

On the second day we made it to D.C. and unpacked the car at Aunt Sophie's house. She was kind enough to let us crash at her place and not expect us to stick around and visit all day. We spent the next day on rented bikes, exploring the city we came to love when we lived there. I took new pictures and Sam made his own memories. There were lots of sentences that began with, "I remember that…"

When we got back home I sent out the latest adventure pictures to our friends and family. One of my friends at work saw them and said, "I want kids that travel that well when I'm a mom some day. How do you do get kids like that?"

I had to think about it and the best answer I could come up with was "move them across the country a few times." In reality it does make siblings bond. For three summers we had only each other. We'd left friends behind and lived out of Residence Inn while we looked for a new house. The kids became friends and learned to get along with the people they constantly shared close quarters with in the van.

I thought about her question a lot that day. Besides the big moves I suspect our continuous weekend adventures had something to do with it. From the time they could hold their head up in a back pack carrier, our kids have been along for the ride. They've seen many parts of the country that most kids only read about in a geography book. And through it all they had to get along. It was a matter of self preservation.

Now that we have all found new friends in New York, I worry that their friendships with each other are dimming. There are no more three month long drives across the U.S. We still take small trips every now and then but it has gotten harder with work schedules and track meets to work around.

So it was nice to see, last weekend, that even though they can get pretty tired of each other when we're at home, once we hit the road that old familiar feeling comes back. It's time for fun. Time to keep your eyes open and see what the world is going to show you. Fighting with siblings can come later. We're crossing state lines and we're hoping to find some fun along the way.

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