That’s the truth of parenting, isn’t it? Keep them close and safe to you, while encouraging them to be curious, independent and intrepid. Do things like take them to Italy and Switzerland when they’re eight, and London and Paris when they’re thirteen, and pretty soon they think the world is theirs to explore. Buy airline tickets instead of new furniture and they think that traveling is a family value. Cover the tables with books about the world, and walls with maps and they want to know more. Have an older sister prepare the path by going to university in Canada, and move to Chicago. Do something really silly like theme her high school graduation party with 200 paper airplanes made of maps and don’t be surprised when you find yourself tearing up just a little in the airport. That’s how this happened.
Alex is off to Chicago to spend four days with Kate and Brendan, then to Copenhagen to travel with her friend Andrea, who was an exchange student here two years ago. They’ll camp for eight days at the Roskilde Music Festival, then fly to Greece (specific plans undefined), then back to Andrea’s family holiday cabin in Sweden. She dreamt of this, planned it and is paying for it (with the help of a few extra frequent flier miles). Yup, all by herself.
Steve made her a sandwich. I watched her and remembered the hours of bedtime back scratching. On the drive to the airport I noticed that the sunflowers were all facing away. I wasn’t sad, but this was a moment of letting go, for sure. The truth is, there are mothers who have to endure sending their nineteen year olds off to war. Now, that’s a big deal. This is just a rite of passage that she’s been preparing for since she was in second grade. This is all good. And exciting. But really, this parenting letting go thing…do we have to do it so many times?