If I weren’t already a Christian, I would become one before I travelled anywhere with kids. No matter how wonderful or important the trip is supposed to be, when you combine high expectations, shifting schedules, unpredictable food and unwelcome surprises, you are bound to get cranky people – toddlers, teens, and parents alike. You’re gonna want God on your side.
Did you know that the Christian Bible has this verse in it?
Do everything without grumbling or arguing.
That’s right, people. No grumbling. No arguing. No whining. No complaining. Just do what you are supposed to do and be pleasant about it.
When we went to China for a month with friends, this was one of our two memory verses. We spent time as a group before we left taking about how unpredictable things can be when you are traveling, especially in a less developed country. It went something like this: The train may be late – by a day. We may make a reservation for three rooms, only to find out that they have charged us three times as much but only have one room. We may not get to do everything on your wish list. The food may make you sick and the customs may make you uncomfortable. That’s okay. The reason you are going is to let people know that Jesus loves them. No one wants to hear you complain because the restaurant only has apple juice and you want orange juice.
We made up a shorthand motto for the verse: Roll with it. The kids even made up a shoulder roll for it. Whenever things did not go according to plan or we didn’t get our way, we could remind ourselves and each other to roll with it.
We still use the motto when I have the grace to remember it. (When I don’t, I say something nasty about how ungrateful and ungracious they are.) It’s a critical reminder for us to keep our eyes on the prize, which is the reason it made my list of the top ten tips for traveling with children.
This morning when, after an hour at sea looking for dolphins, I didn’t think we’d see one, it looked like Ezra might melt into a puddle of bitterness and complaint. I reminded him that nature doesn’t put on shows for us on demand, winked at him, and told him to roll with it. He smiled a little and nodded.
I don’t know what would have happened if five minutes later we weren’t treated to one of the best nature shows I have ever seen. But for that moment I was proud of him, grateful for the verse, and grateful for our particular “translation” of it.
Roll with it, people.
That’s good advice whether or not you are traveling.