We had a fabulous family vacation at a dude ranch in Arizona.
Going into this vacation, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Our older son loves horses, but they only allow kids to ride if they are in the kids’ program, and group activities are not really his thing. Our younger son loves groups, but he broke his wrist and it would be in a cast. My husband has a lifelong fear of horses. And given my current physical state, I would not be able to ride. It didn’t look like a winner of a trip.
But I have learned to listen when I am guided to do something, so we set off.
The ranch offers a variety of activities. On a typical vacation, we do everything together, but here, there was so much going on that we also did things on our own. The counselors for the kids’ club were fabulous with our older son, and he took group riding lessons every single day. Our younger son LOVED the kids club; he attended every hour that it was open and talked about it when it was not. My husband rode daily and overcame his fear of horses. He also did a lot of mountain biking. And I was able to do a hike, some writing, and relax.
I also got to meet a blogger I follow, as well as her family. That was a fun surprise!
Toward the end of the week, we all attended a BBQ. It was outside, with fire pits, s’mores and a guitar player crooning country songs. (Obviously, we arrived early. It did get hopping after awhile.)
The kids ran off to play together, with our younger son in the thick of things. I watched the group from afar, and suddenly, it looked like another kid was kicking him. Soon, our son and another boy ran over to me.
The other boy spoke breathlessly. “That kid keeps kicking Lefty, for no reason!” (Our son had picked up that nickname early in the week, and it stuck.)
The kicking kid slunk up behind them with a mischievous smile. I don’t typically discipline other people’s children, so I just said to the group, “No kicking. None of you.”
And they ran off.
A little while later, I glanced over at the kids. It was much darker and harder to see, but it looked like our son was getting kicked again. A lot. And he was.
By all accounts, that same kid just went crazy, kicking him for no reason anyone could give. We figured that the best bet was to separate the fight, remove ourselves (all of us) from the situation and head back to our room. The parents of the other kid were handling him; it sounded like this wasn’t the first time this had happened, and I felt for them.
Lefty had a bruise and cuts on his leg, scratches on his face, a cut lip, and a bruised ego.
The worst part, he noted, was that the two of them would be in kids’ club together the next day. He felt like he couldn’t go.
We assured him that we would figure something out, and we all went to bed.
The next morning, we told him that he didn’t have to go to kids’ club. Everyone had seen what happened and I’m sure we could figure out a way for him to ride the horses outside kids’ club.
But he loved the time playing with his other friends there. He didn’t want to give that up just because of this one kid and this one episode.
He thought about it over breakfast and decided that he wanted to attend the kids’ club after all, if his father and I could talk with one of the counselors.
Of course, we did. She had seen the altercation, so we simply reminded her of what happened the night before and asked if they could help to manage the dynamic. And though Lefty was still a little hesitant, he was also still determined not to miss a minute of fun, so he walked into the kids’ club with his favorite counselor and pushed through any discomfort.
He had a fabulous day. And by two days later, the boys were actually friends.
I hope to remember that when something is really hard. Do I want to give up the other things that I really enjoy in order to avoid what makes me uncomfortable? When I am in a lot of discomfort, do I want to give up on the fun things in life? Just like we talked with his favorite counselor, I may need some help laying the groundwork, but maybe from there, I could get going again?
On our next-to-last day, Lefty was riding a new horse, who bucked and threw him to the ground. He rapidly crawled away, determined that he was okay and got back on the horse.
This is unusual there – they don’t aim for the guests to get bucked. As a result, he got a strong reputation around the ranch as the kid who got bucked and got back on the horse. One of the cowboys loaned him chaps for his next ride, which made him feel like a real cowboy, and they gave him a lasso of his own to take home.
They signed his cast with what is now my new motto: