Tuesday, September 03, 2013

A Labor Day with a Little Labor, a Little Fun!

Labor Day weekend has passed, and it included some labor as well as some fun!  We spent the weekend with a fair amount of relaxing, including having friends over for dinner a couple of times, playing card games, watching movies, and having late night conversations.  Dominick had to work early mornings, and we all worked yesterday afternoon and evening at the airport restaurant, where we served folks leaving the Telluride Film Festival.

We had a little surprise yesterday morning, when we drove to Grand Junction to watch Dominick use his birthday gift from February...a 30 minute trip around the Go Kart race track!  The kids and I pitched in together to buy him a gift certificate, as we thought he would get a huge kick out of it.  What we didn't know was his reason for delaying going up to redeem his certificate, and that was that he was trying to save enough money for ALL of us to be able to race together!  As we arrived and went inside, he surprised us all by giving up his 30 minutes, and contributing extra so that all of us could race for 10 minutes.  We tried to talk him out of it, but he said, "No way, we're all going to have fun!".  For the kids, this was their first real experience driving anything that was not on a contained track, and they were ecstatic.  Here's a peek at the preparations, though I have no pics of us on the track since we were all in our little cars:

We are hitting the age with the kids when many folks are now starting to make comments about when they start driving, dating, etc.  Angela is 15 1/2, and eligible for a permit if age were our only criteria.  Suffice it to say, none of our kids will be driving at 16.  It isn't just about the money, though of course for us that is a huge concern.  My years as an insurance agent were enough to show me that 16 is too young to be a responsible, careful driver for most kids, and Dominick and I said our kids wouldn't drive at 16 many years ago.    Most would probably not believe it, but we have don't have an ounce of push back from the kids about that.  We have had a couple of long conversations with all the kids, and explained our reasons why we want them to wait, and backed it up with current accident statistics.  I showed them this chart:

Also, I think many adults with kids who are grown and gone are unaware of the national trend toward driving at later ages.  I have been keeping abreast of this, for obvious reasons, and I am sure much of it has to do with the economic downturn and that there are fewer entry level jobs available to youth to begin to save for a car, gas, insurance, etc.  I thought I'd share this here as it might be a surprise to many to see the dramatic shifts in teen driving.  In the early-mid 80's when Dominick and I were in our teens, by 17 EVERYONE seemed to have a driver's license, and indeed it appears that 70% had one...and a car...and the attendant costs.  When you look at 2010, less than 45% of teens have a license at 17 years old, and in fact it isn't until you reach the 20-24 year olds that you see the % of younger drivers reaching that 70% mark.  Surprising, isn't it? :

The kids are also wise enough, and seasoned enough travelers to understand that where we live means far different driving conditions than some kids have...say like I did in Southern California.  We have explained to them that we will talk about a permit at 17, and then we want them to have enough all weather hours behind the wheel that we feel confident in their skill level before we turn them lose on winter mountain roads.  With 4 kids who are all a year and four months apart, it will take us awhile to accumulate enough driving time for each of the kids to get a lot of practice!  It's not like having them spread 2 years apart, that's for sure.  

So driving on a contained track in little go karts, even if only for 10 minutes, was a real treat and we all enjoyed it!  Dominick, of course, came in first by a long shot, while Matthew wasn't far behind.  I spun out twice, and then waited to assist Olesya and Josh at different times, both of whom ended up spinning out with lots of giggle, so I ended up at the end of the pack.  

After our special surprise, it was off to Kmart to find some clothes for Angela and Kenny, both of whom we have a hard time finding appropriate things for.  With their Labor Day 65% off sale, we were able to make quite a haul and outfit them with a few new things each.  The kids all decided we ought to make this our annual Labor Day ritual...driving on the track and Kmart shopping.  Yea, it takes very little to get us excited...the thrill of the chase, both on the track and in the shops!

We rushed back to town to be to work at 3:30 PM, where we all worked for a few hours before hitting the hay early.  We are starting our school days at 7:30 AM, which means an early wake up for all of us at around 6:15 AM.  I am glad we have managed to be disciplined about that, because I am the WORST about getting up early!

In between the labor and the fun this weekend, I had a late night conversation with Angela which was so sweet.  Among other things we talked about, she wanted to reassure me that what I did every day teaching them mattered.  She said she knew I was doing something very different from many moms, and that I might feel at times like my "job" was not important.  She said to me, "Mom, what you are doing is as important as a college professor.  I have thought a lot about this, and if we end up not learning what we need to learn, it effects our own kids, and their kids, and their kids.  It also means we don't do good on jobs or anything else, so everyone we work with is effected as well.  I think what you are doing is super important, and you do it really well.  I was thinking the other day that I never thought I would learn English so fast, or so many other things.  When I came home, I was actually dumb.  I was a bad student in school, I didn't know many things for my age, and I think I have learned more in 3 years here with you than I learned in my whole life until then.  Most important, if I had not been at home with you, I wouldn't have understood God. The past 6 months or so I think I totally get what you have tried to teach us about how following God makes it all just work better.  Before, I didn't really get it.  But you keep explaining things to me, showing where God is in it, and where God is in me.  I never would have learned that in a regular school.  In fact, I probably would have made fun of it."  then she added, "You are probably the best teacher I will ever have, even though I know I will have other good teachers.  You work so hard to make sure we get a good education.  I hope you know we all are very lucky to have you, and I want to thank you for all you went through the past few months trying to make sure things were best for us.  It was very hard for you, and it feels so much better now.  I am glad you and Dad made the decision, and I know you must be a little scared.   But we all will pull together, and we will have all the things we need to learn.  We will share our money so we all get our books or paper.  We are a Team, remember?  We are Team LaJoy, and it is the best team we will ever be on."

Wow.  That conversation alone made every sleepless night worthwhile.  It was a strong reminder that none of us are in this alone, and that one way or another, we will make it.  We are a team, and like the Marines, no man gets left behind.  Dad doesn't get left alone at work if he needs help, Mom doesn't get left hanging with house work, kids have all the help they need with Mom and Dad side by side encouraging them and believing in them.  As I worried about taking away a sense of "belonging" if we let the school, I forgot one little thing...we all already belong to each other.  We work together, we play together, we pray and laugh together. A little labor and a little fun makes for a wonderful life!

1 comment:

Mandy in TN said...

Waiting to drive is definitely a growing trend. My oldest got his license when he was 18yo. I encouraged him to do so, but it wasn't a big deal. My second son is currently 19yo and still does not have a license. He goes to a small rural college where freshman are not allowed to have cars. There are more students than parking spots. (and really even if you have a car there is nowhere to go.) Seniors have first option for a spot, then juniors, and, if there are any spots left, sophomores in good standing get them on a first come first serve basis. Because he doesn't need one, he has no interest in getting a license.