Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Traveling Lessons

I'm a seasoned traveler, and find that I can get myself pretty much anywhere with everything I need without much thought. My son, on the other hand, is barely at the apprentice level of traveling.

He's 18, a high school graduate about to go away to college in eight weeks, and he just traveled by himself to Indiana to the University of Notre Dame for a week retreat.

In the days leading up to his trip, I periodically checked with him about his preparations. "Do you have enough underwear?" and "Don't forget extra contact lenses" and "Razor, toothbrush, deordorant?"

His reply each time, "I've got it covered, Mom. Don't worry."

I backed off just like he asked me to. Hindsight makes me question that choice.

Yeah, well, it turned out that he didn't have enough underwear and ran out to Walmart the night before to make sure he was "covered."

But that wasn't all.

I'm trying to learn to let go these days. I don't want to hover and basically keep my kids on the ground. I want them to fly - on their own wings, not mine. But it's hard to know when to step back and when to step in.

He called me during his 3 1/2 hour layover in Cincinnati. He called when he landed in South Bend. He called me while in the cab to the university. He called me as he walked the campus to where he was to check in.

And then an hour later he called me again.

"So. . . apparently, I was supposed to bring my own sheets and pillow."

Hmmm. . . laugh, cry, scold? I couldn't decide.

I went with "I take it you mean you didn't check the 'What to Bring to Notre Dame' sheet they sent you when you registered."

"Well, yeah, I lost that a long time ago," the humbling process had begun.

"You're going to have to figure out what to do. I'm sure this isn't the first time someone has forgotten their sheets and pillow. Let me know what happens."

And all night I wondered if my son lay cold and shivering in Indiana on a bare dorm bed mattress...seriously, it kept me awake!

The next day (today) he called to say that he'd scrounged a blanket and a pillow and had a line on some sheets for tonight. And that, yes, he's not the only one this has happened to in the history of the Notre Dame Vision week.

I hope he learned his lesson. The one that says "Be prepared!"

But on this journey to adulthood, we both still have a lot to learn.

I learned that he's "not there" yet. . . and neither am I. And that's okay. We're on our way, and that's what matters.