When in Rome — Adapt
My family and I have been on the road for almost three weeks; and, in that time, our routine has been thrown entirely out of whack. Eating patterns, sleep schedules, school routines – they have all just gone right out the window. When we began the trip I tried to maintain some semblance of normality. But, after a few days, I decided to try to take events in stride and adapt. We’re heading home now. I feel like we’ve done well. The boys have learned a lot despite not going to regular classes and doing regular homework. I have been able to complete my work, albeit with some difficulty, without missing a day. We’ve all experienced new things and grown as people. Life is all about learning new things and growing. We have done a good job of adapting to our circumstances. We made a few breakthroughs too. Alan is turning into an excellent swimmer where last month he was afraid of the water. Neil eats fish now because he has to eat something, and that’s all we’ve been eating on this vacation. They may seem like small achievements. They are really little demonstrations that my boys are turning into functioning members of the human species.
Black Bears and Panda Bears
We can all learn about adaptability by looking at the lives of Black Bears. Black Bears and Panda Bears are remarkably similar animals. So why is one species so successful while the other is seriously endangered? Look at the diet of the American Black Bear. They eat bugs, small mammals, and fish. They also eat garbage and whatever leftovers they find from their human neighbors. Black Bears are miracles of evolution. Instead of shrinking away, as humans encroach on their territory, they just keep hanging around and adapting to their new surroundings. The Panda Bear, on the other hand, eats almost nothing but bamboo. China is a big country with tons of people, and the Panda Bear has not adapted to the invasion by people on its territory. So, despite Black Bears and Panda Bears being similar animals, they are different enough to cause one species to prosper while the other founders. The cheetah is another example of an animal that has not done well. It eats nothing but gazelle.
See Food from the Sea
Nearly every meal, apart from cruddy highway meals, has been seafood. One of the greatest seafood restaurants I’ve ever been to is the Sanitary Fish Market in Moorhead City North Carolina. I’m not about to walk into a place like that and order the kids a hamburger from the kids menu. No, sir, these kids will learn to eat fish or they won’t eat. Neil, my oldest, was never a fish eater before he found out his choices were Grouper, Flounder, Sword Fish, Atlantic Salmon, Crab legs, Shrimp, Lobster, Oysters and Calamari. Then, suddenly, fish started tasting good. Go figure. I read an article in Parenting magazine last month (sorry, not the internet version) where some fancy French chef said, when asked what kids eat in France, that kids is France eat smaller portions of the same things their parents eat, whatever that is. I think that makes good sense. I’ve said before that I hate kids’ menus because they offer nothing but fried crud. I witnessed first-hand this week the adaptability of my kids. Fish is now accepted without question. That’s good. And I doubt it would have happened if I had caved in and ordered chicken nuggets. I’m not enduring that embarrassment at a fish restaurant.
Fear of Swimming — Poof
My youngest boy, Alan, has never been good in water until this week. Just about every hotel has a swimming pool these days. With swimming being their only option for entertainment it’s no wonder Alan got good at it. He went from the pool to the Ocean in North Carolina at Atlantic beach. Then, in Florida, we swam every day in the Gulf of Mexico. In a matter of almost three weeks Alan has turned into a pretty strong swimmer. He can do the crawl, breast stroke and dive to the bottom of the pool. That’s good enough by itself, but he can also do a little body surfing and doesn’t get upset being knocked over by waves. It just goes to show that kids are capable of more than we sometimes give them credit for. I thought the boy was just timid. What I now know is that he just needed to be put in a situation where swimming was a way of life. Then that life became his life. Now he loves swimming. I can scratch swimming lessons off of my to-do list. Now I’ll have to be more worried about ocean survival and CPR and stuff. That’s one victory for adaptability. Sorry, Mr. Panda Bear, you lose.
I don’t want to get into a religious argument about evolution (although I could if anybody wants me to), but it’s clear that human beings share at least one evolutionary trait with Black Bears which is our penchant for adapting. Our teeth are designed to eat meat and vegetables (that makes us omnivores). Our legs are adapted to walking and running which are necessary for long journeys and which are responsible for our migrating out of Africa and becoming blight on the Earth. Warm climate humans are less hairy than cold climate humans, and are generally smaller. Darker people live where there is more sun. We humans are adaptable in every conceivable way. Panda Bears aren’t so lucky. They don’t have big brains to help them cope, and their bodies aren’t designed to adapt to eating other foods. Their bamboo is being cut down and their forests are disappearing, and they can’t seem to run fast enough to avoid the poachers. Things aren’t looking good for them. Black Bears, on the hand, don’t seem to give a damn about encroachment or less fish in the water. They’ll just shack up in your garage and eat your garbage. Isn’t that great? This week I have seen my boys adapt and I’ve compared them, in my mind, to bears. I’m proud that they have shown traits of what has made human beings into the greatest animal species since the roach.