Of Mentors and Bovine Freedom

One of the most fulfilling aspects of preparing to leave is connecting with old friends. There is something about taking off for a year that prompts you to fill your days with reunions and your nights with farewells. (Don’t get the wrong idea…it just sounded poetic.) Yesterday the three youngest kids and I met Tom’s and my first real employer, Pete Peterson, and his always delightful wife, Marieta, for a Hawaiian lunch and for what I had hoped would be meaningful conversation. Pete gained his expertise at the helm of one of the ’80’s legendary software startups and imparted much of his wisdom to us when we worked for his much smaller ’90’s venture. I cut my editing teeth on his memoir and penned my first and only software manual (a thoroughly exciting read) under his employ. Pete taught us much more than business though. He has strong opinions in many areas–financial, practical, ethical, familial–and has taught us several valuable life lessons over the years.

If he’s learned anything new in the past year, however, I wouldn’t know it. We barely got two sentences in owing to the presence of my high-spirited charges. Two nights ago Kieran and Asher discovered some cow costumes in grandma’s dress-up closet and became intent on wearing them everywhere. I convinced them they wouldn’t work for swimming class, but as soon as they were out of the pool, the fur went on. Not one to squelch personal expression, I indulged them, and entered the restaurant cows in tow. Thankfully the staff and patrons were all amused (Utahns are generally well-disposed towards chlldren), but the strange attire inspired them to behavior worthy of the barnyard. McKane tied their tails together, which led to some predictable mobility issues. Once I freed them, they proceeded to lick salt and pepper shakers, scale the condiment counter in search of lemons, and circle the interior of the restaurant multiple times at something resembling a gallop (Cows don’t gallop, do they?) Realizing the chase was futile, we packed up the food I didn’t get to eat and vowed to lunch another day…sans children.

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Amusing as the experience was, it of course begs the question, “How the heck are you going to get these kids to behave around the globe?” The answer: we’re going to have to get creative. Threats and bribery are always the most tempting methods to win compliance, but thoughtful planning and undivided attention will probably serve us better. Aha, better parenting through travel. Now there’s a concept.

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