He just left me there. He turned around and headed down the tunnel without looking back. I stood there, waiting. Waiting for him to beg me to go with him… but he didn’t. He laughed along with a young lady… I’m sure, at some ridiculous joke. The crowd around me stared, caressing me with glances of pity, and smiling as though they were all expert surgeons of umbilical cord severing. The heat of the spotlight made me begin to sweat. And so, … I left.
“He’s only ten, you know.”
It wasn’t like I was sending my son off to college or to some far off land to take on a new job… I was sending him on a plane to my mother’s, across the northern border, for two weeks.
I think back, when I dropped him off for the first day of school. It didn’t bother me at all. Although, I was leaving him to fend for himself, in an environment that had a higher concentration of contagious bacterial content than a zombie apocalypse TV series, I never worried for a second. He would meet new people and encounter new ideas, but I knew he would appreciate the experience of it all and build a stronger immune system in the process.
But today was different.
Today, he would be going out into that big bad world, where I couldn’t protect him or guide him. I couldn’t email his teacher or text a friend’s parent. He was utterly out of reach…
And he wasn’t scared… he was excited.
From the moment he woke up… until the moment his hand slipped out of mine, he couldn’t stop talking. He was so ready.
And surprisingly, I wasn’t.
I thought of everything that could go wrong…
Embellished stories at customs… because he has a huge personality.
I-know-it-all Syndrome in an international airport… because he is way too independent.
Inappropriate jokes through security… because he thinks he’s hilarious.
And then it hit me, square in the forehead. I wasn’t ready for him to grow up into his own person. The plane ride was irrelevant. My son had been on plenty of plane rides.
I was watching my son soar right in front of my eyes.
Every trait I was worried about, were the very things that built up his confidence. These traits were the things that made him who he is…
The young man who isn’t afraid to express his opinions and ideas.
The dreamer who takes on new experiences and is willing to lead the way.
A kid who loves to laugh and make others laugh as well.
I admire his courage. And yes, I am scared for him. I am scared he is going to get hurt or he won’t be accepted…
… but today, he is not afraid.
Yes, he left.
He squeezed me one last time and told me he loved me. He thanked me for putting the trip together and told me he would stay in touch.
Then, alone, fearlessly, he went to board the plane with the accompanying flight attendant, making her laugh to whole way down, without looking back.
Safe travels, my love.