As Shavuot heads our way, I’ve been thinking about Moshe in the desert. It took him 40 years to travel an estimated 1400 miles to bring the Jews out of Egypt and lead them to the land of Israel. And while I’ve spent my fair share of time in Jewish Day School and understand the reverence we are supposed to have for our Jewish heroes and leaders, I truly believe I could have taught Moses a thing or two about traveling with family.
A rough estimate of the number of Jews wandering the desert puts us at about 3 million backpackers. I’ve got 5 kids. As any parent with small children can attest to, some days there is little difference between 3 and 3 million.
While you may despair at some of your children’s travel behavior, it may be of some comfort to learn that the Jewish people didn’t do much better. They complained, they got in trouble, the trip took way longer than it should have, there were punishments and time outs. That certainly mirrors most of my family’s car trips.
Moshe, if only I could have thrown a few traveling truisms your way:
- Never underestimate the power of nap time. A well placed nap, just before some of your 3 million get cranky, could save you. Think less infighting and more kumbaya. Also, let’s be honest here, 40 years means you spend 14,600 days walking in the desert. Give yourself some down time.
- Keep your people well fed. If only there were Ziplock bags (and 7-11s) in desert days! Some of the Israelites biggest fights happened over food and water. Who isn’t crabby when hungry? Find a way to easily keep everyone fed and hydrated.
- Travel buddies. Moshe, you’ve got a good system going http://www.ejsmith.com/ with the tribes’ marching order. Find out who travels well with whom and create a buddy system. Tribe flags? Real smart. These days we just buy neon colored baseball hats.
- Keep the histrionics at a minimum. That whole 12 spy-gig didn’t do anyone any favors. The battle of he said vs he said led to dissention and punishment. Love your people equally. As I often say, you may not always like your kids but you’ve always got to love them.
- Remember the good moments. You’ve got 21,024,000 minutes in the desert. Snap a couple of pictures, make a Picasa album, post them on your Giant Israelite Bulletin Board. We like celebrating the good.