January 30, 2017

Life Lessons in Tucson

I've never really considered the people that "lived" next to us. Maybe that is being inconsiderate or maybe it's just me being real. People come and go all the time when your home is on wheels.

Tucson is the first place that a "neighbor" knocked on our door and it was funny. I mean it really was. I was on the phone and had to say, "Can you hold on a minute, our neighbor is knocking on the door." Tucson was the first place we met other families that are full-timing and it was great. We needed it.

I thought you might enjoy reading a bit about it and well... it's just a good story. Hope you agree.

WARNING: Wordy and opinionated post to follow.

The kids are always the first to make friends. Most kids we've come across are weekend warriors (only visit campgrounds on weekends) and we never even have a chance to meet the parents. Tucson was another ballgame. We were able to meet the parents, interact, hang-out and enjoy each other's company. I mean adult play-dates really need to be a thing. We met people that aren't like us in any way whatsoever but we were able to connect and form a relationship as we do have some commonalities: wanderlust.

In fact, the family we hung out with the most (as in Reno cried and their kids cried when we left) is so different from our norm. We've spent the majority of our kids lives surrounded by like-minded people. Who am I kidding? The same goes for E and I as our entire lives have been lived in as close to a white-picket fence type neighborhood as one can get. When you grow up in one area your whole life more often than not your neighbors and friends believe a lot of the same things you believe. It doesn't challenge your mind and teach you how to interact with people outside of that comfort zone. Don't get me wrong, we have friends of different races, from different places and other religions, but I'm talking more than that. 

Celebrating one of the V Family birthdays. So FUN!
The V Family in Tucson challenged us to think outside the box and a lot of times just learn from each other. There was no right answer and no trying to convince us our beliefs were wrong or they were right. They believe that the Earth is flat, that dinosaurs didn't roam the Earth, mountains are tree stumps, space travel isn't an actual thing and they only recently started celebrating birthdays. It was like WHAAAAA? And you know what? We ADORE them! Friendship and connection doesn't mean that you always agree. It means being able to respect each other and their choices and beliefs. It means there isn't always a "right" answer. I would often hear our kids discussing dinosaurs or astronauts with theirs and I thought it was amazing. They were learning that it's ok to disagree with friends and just be open-minded. Never once did their discussion become an argument. They were learning to truly communicate on a level they would never have learned with us being in our cozy bubble for the rest of eternity.

The bond we created with the V Family is unbreakable. In that month, we became family. Little Miss bonded with them like she's not bonded with anyone. I swear she even talks like their 7 year old daughter these days. There were days when the V family mama would be around and Little Miss wouldn't want anything to do with me (that's never happened before)! Leaving the RV park was like pulling teeth EVERY. TIME. That is, unless the V Family was coming with us. Our kids begged to stay in Tucson. Their kids begged to leave with us and travel the country together. We assured them that WE WILL meet again and sooner rather than later.

We met another family that was seemingly very nice and our kids got along wonderfully. They were parked a good distance from the playground so their kids would be their for hours without supervision. No biggie in my mind as they would often run home to check in with their parents. All was good in the hood until... I wanted to knock the mama out. There was an incident where one of their kids (we'll call him Z) started calling another kid on the playground a spoiled brat and saying he wasn't going to play with him (mind you the little kid was 4 years younger than him at 6 years old). He told us that his parents told him he couldn't play with the 6 year old (we'll call him B). Since B was much younger my kids started saying they weren't going to play with him either, thereby excluding B from all interaction. I called my kids inside saying that we are not going to exclude someone as B hadn't done anything to them. That's not what we do. 

One thing about being in a place where there aren't a lot of kids is that all the kids play together. There are not enough kids for them to break into groups as they often do in school. Therefore, it's very inclusive. Everyone plays together. 

The situation escalated to the point where I called Z's mom. We'd built a rapport and I felt it wasn't a big deal to do so. When she and her husband arrived, they immediately went to their son to get the story. They never asked me what had happened. Next thing I knew, his mom stomped over to me, body language raging, with a nasty " Ok, so HERE'S THE DEAL" After some unpleasant back and forth, I found myself practically yelling "You aren't here! How do you know what's actually happening? You aren't here to see what's going on. You aren't here!" I quite obviously struck a nerve as she walked off flicking us off in the kids' plain view. Classy. Her husband? Well, he stayed and watched their kids. Thank you for that.

They are teaching their kids to cut people off instead of working things out, as they themselves are modeling that behavior. I felt sorry for the kids. They won't have any sustainable relationships if that's how they are taught to deal with confrontation. Z then told our son that before his parents left they told him that if B does anything again to "kick his ass". Who knows? The kid could be making it up, but after our conversation (if that's what you want to call it) I wouldn't put it past them. Unreal. 

I felt like a good parent. Insert pat on the back for this mama HERE. We talked to our kids for what must have been over an hour about what occurred outside. They saw/heard it all. Again, a beautiful learning experience. Beautiful, I tell ya'! Even if it got my blood pumping. :) We discussed how in life you won't always be able to get along with everyone and how it is important to stand up for what you believe and know is right. I didn't know B or his family very well, but I did know that it wasn't right for another kid to be calling him names and excluding him from playing with everyone. I also explained to the kids that they will have friends that will tell them to do things that later in life it could turn into do this drug or steal this thing. You have to know what is right and be strong, always.

(Note: Z's mom texted me 3 weeks later and apologized for the way she behaved. I wish her and her family nothing but the best. It still stands: we learned something that day. )

In all honesty, Tucson wasn't my favorite place. It felt very industrial just about everywhere, the downtown was very small and I didn't find a ton of things to do in our price range. On the other hand, the people were incredible. They might not have been from Tucson, but still. If I could transplant our favorite families to a place we actually really enjoy it'd be even better!

Love this shot! Some of the V and T kids. They all attempted to fit in Little Miss' bed. HA!
We've found that so far it's not been easy to make lasting relationships (or any for that matter) while on this journey. Again, Tucson was the first place we've been where we met other families that are doing the same thing or something similar. It's amazing that such a strong bond can form in such a short amount of time. Our goodbye was much-like the goodbye we experienced when leaving our home in VA. Everyone was outside waving goodbye, there were hugs and tears and just love all around! It was truly heartwarming. 

So... to the V and T families (whom we also met in Tucson and adore!) thank you for a wonderful month and many memories made.

One more image and another Tucson bonus: a bowl full of fresh oranges, lemons and grapefruits always on hand. Our kids would sit for long periods of time cutting, juicing and eating oranges. It was great! Life lesson in that? Forget the big juicer and get a $4 one from Wal-Mart. Keeps the kids busy for hours!

No comments:

Post a Comment