Although I’m the same age my mother was when she packed me off to college, I’m still a long way from knowing what it will feel like to send my own children out into the big, wide world. I appreciate the wisdom of my fellow bloggers who write about their experiences with college-aged kids. Even though my oldest is only ten, I get little hints every now and then of what it might be like to see him off on a life adventure.
This week, for example, my son joined the other “big kids” at his school for their first of three ski trips. Parent volunteers were invited to join, but since I’m not an experienced skier, I would be more hindrance than help. Beyond paying for the trips, which included lessons, rentals, and bus transportation, all I could do was send my son on his way dressed in warm clothes with a bag of snacks and hearty lunch. It was up to him to speak up for himself if he needed anything while on the trip. The forecast for our area called for snow changing to freezing rain, and I was a bit concerned about the two-hour bus ride. I checked in with the trip organizer, a veteran teacher, who assured me that the road was well maintained even in winter weather, and that he’d never had to cancel a trip. So, trusting that the teachers and bus drivers would monitor conditions, there was nothing left for me to do but let go.
A few parents at the school didn’t permit their kids to participate (financial aid is available, so no one who wants to go is left behind), and at least one mother expressed concern about the safety of travel by chartered bus. A cautious person myself, I admit that I couldn’t completely let go of the worry. But what a time my son had! When he came home, neither of us could contain our excitement. I grabbed him in a bear hug and planted big kisses on his cheeks, while feeling a mix of relief to have him home and eagerness to hear all about the trip. Fortunately my son is great at humoring me, and he was just as enthusiastic to tell all in great detail.
One of our favorite family movies is Finding Nemo. I’m always moved at the end when the formerly over-protective father fish sends his son off to school with instructions to go have an adventure. Aside from the obvious need to let our children begin to lead their own lives, our relationship as a family is much richer and we all benefit when each of us is free to go on an adventure, and then share the stories.