Sunday, June 8, 2008
He's on the road -- again
As I type this I am just in a puddle, just minutes ago having said good-bye to my oldest son who is on his way back up to the northwest. He's been home for the past three weeks -- graduating high school, receiving his Eagle Scout Award, fixing computers for friends and family, and filling our house with his usual whirlwind of activity. I miss him already. I've become used to saying good-bye to him, knowing that it will be a few weeks, or even eight weeks at the most, until he's home again. He's traveled to Japan twice and Europe once. But this time, it is likely that we won't see him until Christmas. Frequent flier miles stretch only so far, and it gets expensive flying back and forth. We plan to cash in some miles at Thanksgiving so the rest of us can go and visit him, and see the beautiful Seattle area. But, for now, I need to get used to the household again, minus my oldest boy. When I first laid eyes on him, he was three weeks old. He big, round brown eyes held my gaze intently. The others in the room commented on how he "only has eyes for his mom." It was love at first sight for me. And in the years that follow, he has gone through life with that same straight-forward sense of purpose. Nothing has held him back. I have to admit, I wasn't prepared for the way he would stride into new situations, confident and no-holds barred. While I was frantically flipping through books on "Raising Your Spirited Child," and "Setting Limits With Your Strong-Willed Child", he was charging on, charming the rest of the world and drinking up life through a wide array of experiences -- ham radio, piano, fencing, scouting, and hanging out at the library and reading everything he could get his hands on. He started his first of what would be many businesses in fourth grade when he bought the materials to make "button badges" for the school elections. He was soon taking orders and selling his wares. (And, I'm proud to say, he has never been without a job since. Which might be part of the reason he was voted "Most Likely to Become a Billionaire" for his senior class.) Meanwhile, I was flailing about, trying to get him to conform to "behaving" as I thought he should. Imagine my surprise when, with the kindest of intentions, he pointed out a book at the bookstore one day and suggested it might be helpful to both of us: "How to Behave So Your Kids Will, Too." I was speechless. My psychiatrist friend told me, gently, "He's right. It's an excellent book." I threw the books aside. I said to my mother, "I just don't know what to do for him sometimes. He is so self sufficent, so independent." Her response was, "The best thing you can do for him, the best gift you can give him, is to let him be who he is." And that advice was the best I've ever received as a parent. Oh, how I wish she could see him now! So, this morning he loaded up his Mazda MX6. Boxes fill the trunk and half of the back seat. There will just enough room for Joe and his two friends, Liz and Sam, who will be driving the 1,800 miles with him. They're all up for an adventure. Once they get up there, the girls will stay for a week and then fly back. They're all good kids and part of me envies them. Road trips were some of the best times I had with my friends when I was in college. Once he gets settled in to the house he is renting with two other friends, he'll start his summer internship and an on-campus job. Thank goodness for cell phones and e-mail. I can't wait to see where his journey takes him. Where he lands will be anyone's guess. But I know for sure he will land on his feet.