Lesson Four: My Children are Hobbits

“Stop touching my stuff!”
“I don’t want to go.”
“Do we have to actually look at it?”
“Get your stuff off my seat!”
From the spectacular caves underneath the dusty pothole that was Sonora, the adventure of history beckoned.  I have avid historians in my brood… experts in Ancient Greece and Rome, Medieval European wars, Japanese samurai battles (and the ronin, of course), and all things World Wars related, I and II.  But the American Southwest?  Yawn…
But this is our own backyard… part of our vast and varied American culture.  This was also Day Three in a reliable but cramped Corolla in which the snacks were a little, shall we say, wilted… and tempers were a tiny bit crispy.  Thus, heading east to the Alamo carried a cacophony of whines, sulks and snark.  My young adults regressed to tiny tots…
Lesson Four: Hobbits love the Shire. And food. So do my children.
“That’s it!” I finally hit my limit.  In the tight little Corolla, even my usually optimistic gypsy nature is a bit frayed.  “You just want to eat, sleep and stay home.  And eat again.  We don’t need second breakfast.  You’re like Hobbits!  But I am Gandalf, damn it, and you are going on an adventure.  And you will like it.”
Adventures… we have them at home, at work and, clearly, on the road.  Some people gravitate towards the mystery and risk inherent therein.  Some people fear them, the lack of control and predictability.

We learn new things when we go on adventures. At work, each new project is an adventure.  It might be with new coworkers we haven’t yet worked closely with or it might be a new initiative that changes the way a team or department works.  Several years ago, I was part of a team managing the acquisition of a 200 person company into our own – our largest acquisition to date. I was paired with a project manager who was also my closest office friend.  After several weeks on this high stress project, I learned that I love her… and never wanted to work that closely with her again.  The funny woman who waffled about where we’d eat lunch each week was a rigid and harsh taskmaster if the tasks wavered at all from the project plan.  The flexibility in our personal time was no where present in our professional work.  It was a painful project. It ended all right, but the next time we were assigned a joint project, I was far better prepared to manage the new personality that had emerged.
Leaving the comfort of the Shire is a difficult boundary to cross sometimes.  Sometimes the Shire is a job we don’t like, but don’t feel safe leaving.  Sometimes the Shire is a relationship.  Sometimes, it’s a habit… ordering the same meal at the same restaurant every time, for example.  Adventures can be small things – coloring your hair, finding a new coffee shop, speaking up when you’d normally stay silent.  We all have our Shires.  Do you know what yours is?
My Hobbits are more like Bilbo and Frodo than Sam

On our Corolla Adventure, I learned that my youngest son would eat anything we put in front of him. Including the scorpion inside the green candied lollipop.  I learned that my oldest son is fascinated by military maps.  He studies the details of the locations, the battle movements and the redeployment of forces.  And I learned that my daughter, usually such a control-freak-planner for every moment of her day, was able to let go of needing to know what was going to happen every minute, every day, and enjoy a spontaneous side trip to an unexpected (but glorious) shoe sale.  Yes, it set us back 40 minutes off our schedule. She didn’t care.
In the end, what I actually learned is that my children are Bilbo type Hobbits. Initially reluctant, but curious enough to take the chance on an adventure after all. The only Hobbit aspect that they can’t let go of is that damned second breakfast.

(My own Hobbits… left, David studying maps; top right, Liam before the scorpion snack; bottom right, Claudia on the Riverwalk in San Antonio, just prior to shoe shopping)

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