I just returned from the biggest risk I take all year:  the honor society trip.  Each year on the weekend before the last week of school, I set off in one direction or another for an eight to nine-hour away destination with twelve to twenty kids.  Over the last eleven years we have visited San Antonio, Albuquerque, Austin, Dallas, Kansas City, and New Braunfels (numerous times).  This year, we returned to Huzzah Valley Resort in Missouri.  We had visited during the solar eclipse, and then my family returned there for Thanksgiving.  I knew the kids would enjoy a longer stay, so we combined the middle and high school societies and set out. 

    I know just spending four days with eighteen kids is what you all think is the risk, but I spend every day with kids… so that’s not a big deal.  The risk is floating six miles on a river raft, hiking through the hills, and spending the day at Six Flags with these kids.  We do a lot to minimize danger, but very few schools allow kids to really experience such things as we did this weekend.  I mean, I got swept right out of the boat by a small tree that had fallen across the river.  I wish I could have seen it because I know I would have laughed hard.  The kids were great.  “Mrs. Smith overboard!  Mrs. Smith overboard!”  The water was so shallow that all I had to do was stand up.  It was a great day of decision-making, team work, and true beauty.  We caught a small turtle, a small beautiful fish, and a crawdad, and let them go after looking at them for a few minutes.  We got stuck on beaver dams and learned how to rudder a raft. So much learning occurred. At Six Flags, I watched teen groups dressed in like t-shirts and corralled by a sponsor, and I thought, “Poor kids.  Who has fun like that?”  My kids stay in groups of like interest and spend the day challenging each other to try rides they never have.

    I completely understand why most schools do not take the risk, and believe me, there have been some who don’t allow their kids to go with me because of the risk.  The benefits of these trips so far outweigh the risks, though, that I do not plan to stop.  The teamwork required to navigate that 8-person raft down the river was amazing.  Some teams worked together, and some had major power plays.  Some of my kids are deathly afraid of water, but they were brave as all get out here!  And rollercoasters?  Many gifted kids are terrified.  But their friends convince them to try, and they come back ready to conquer the world.  There’s not a thing we do in the traditional school days that match these accomplishments. 

   Mommas, on this Mother’s Day, I would like to challenge you to take risks with your boys.  When it came time to clean up our cabins, it’s no surprise that the girls were mostly done before they went to bed last night, and the high schoolers had theirs done pretty quickly.  But the junior high boys had to be called back again and again to pick up trash and get items out of drawers and take their things to the bus.  I laughed because when I came in to check on them, they were folding their dirty sheets!  I let them know that those should be placed in a pile in the bathroom. What they didn’t know was astonishing. When I mentioned that they should already be helping to do their own laundry, one young man quickly retorted, “My mom says it isn’t worth the risk to her washing machine.”  Please, Moms, let your boys learn to do for themselves.  We allow the girls to. Why not the boys?  I find myself telling the boys that their wives cannot be “hot” and be their mothers. 

    You can literally find a reason to avoid almost everything on the internet.  My advice is to quit looking at the internet.  Bubble wrapping your kid cripples him.  Take a risk.  Your future daughter-in-law will thank you.

-          Michelle