The Oz man got to fly to Texas this past weekend to hang with his Wichita Falls BFF and family. Which is pretty much Oz’s second family. He’d stay with them each time I went on a work trip and blends in as one of their own. That he and Andrew, the BFF, can pick up every time right where they left off a year ago brings warm hugs to this Ma’s heart.
When we told him that he had to fly as an unaccompanied minor again, he groaned. He abhors having to do this. Being treated like a kid (uhhhh, you still are dude), having to have a Delta dudette cart him around the Atlanta airport instead of doing it himself. Yuck. Oz would much rather give half a wave to me at security and have his own adventure…unsupervised. And I’m ok with that. It’s what we want for him, for all of our kids.
Anyways. After he got on the plane Friday morning, I sat with another couple who’s 12 year old daughter was flying on her own for the first time. Dad was fine, Daughter was fine, Mom was struggling. A stream of “what if’s” were flying and Dad headed them off at the pass. By the time the plane finally pulled away from the gate, I was getting concerned that she was going to bust through the window and chase the plane down. True story.
As they made their turn and started towards the taking off part of the runway (that’s a pretty technical term right there) she turned to me and said something along the lines of, “How do you do this and not be terrified?” Here’s what I said, “In my opinion, you are giving your daughter one of the greatest gifts you can. Independence and adventure. Every time she does something like this, she’ll gain a little more confidence in herself, and her ability to deal. You’re doing great.” No, that didn’t bring her a lot of comfort. But she did smile, turn to her husband and took a big breath.
And at the end of the day, that’s what I want for my kids. I want them to embrace adventure with an “I can do it Ma” attitude. I don’t want them holding on (this may not be working with Zandra. Her moving in TEMPORARILY to get her feet on the ground and caught up in life enough to finish school seems to have backfired in that now her “I’m never leaving” seems to gain conviction with each utterance.) But not really. She’s just finally not struggling every moment of every day to survive and I’m pleased.
There seems to be a strong desire these days by parents who want their kids to ALWAYS need them. That’s a shame. Raising children who won’t shake off Mom’s hand and say, “I’ve got this” into their 30’s. Oz did that when he was 3 walking into the church nursery. He’d turn around very seriously and put his hands up, “NO! I can do this.” Well, ya dude but I still need to go and check you in. He hated it.
So, no. Not every kid can get on a plane without mom and dad and we’re very fortunate that both mom and dad have points we can use. But you can send them down the street, carrying their own backpack telling them what an adventure walking without mom is. You can send them to work at their first job telling them, no, you won’t be there to pick them up. You got the job, figure out how to get there and if it includes me driving you, you’ll be giving me gas money out of that check of yours. Or, “Here’s your bus pass, you’re welcome.”
As it does, the time in Texas went way too fast and I imagine they’re heading into DFWville right now. But the stories coming from mom, Tina, are priceless and hopefully we can get Andrew up here this summer for some more adventure. OH! Since Oz has some of his own money, he gets to buy his own airport breakfast…
…Coke Zero and Cheez-it’s. Breakfast of Champions..
Independence and adventure. It’s a gift. Pass it on.
Life is either a great adventure, or nothing.