Most people send their kids off to college after they finish their senior year of high school and after they’ve turned 18. It comes at a time when it’s expected and planned for.
And then there’s us.
A few days ago, my 17 year old asked if he could change his mind about going with us to Ecuador. He’s decided that moving around with the military is no longer a part of his game plan. We had hoped he would come with us, finish his senior year as a homeschooler and take the time to explore a new corner of South America. After all, what young adult wouldn’t want to take advantage of a trip to Ecuador and all that a new and exciting place has to offer?
The answer to that is a young man who has already explored a large part of the world. He was born in Germany and when we returned to Germany a couple of years later, he spent nearly three years in a German kindergarten. He left near fluent in the language. He traveled to several foreign countries and has great memories of France, Spain, Austria, England, just to name a few. He’s lived in Utah, Nevada, California, Alabama, and Texas, all places where we decided to homeschool and give his life a single source of stability, the same teacher everywhere he lived. He has spent a semester in an American school for 9th grade and a full year in an Argentine school for 10th grade. He speaks fluent Spanish. He’s hiked the Alps and the Andes.
I imagine that parents of all young teens dread the time when their young adult is ready to leave the house. For me, this is all the harder because he doesn’t even have a house to leave. We’re in limbo, on vacation in between assignments. We’ll be leaving him behind, waving from the car windows as we say goodbye.
I always cry when we climb aboard the plane to leave the US. I’m always sad about the possible life we leave behind – the one where I live close to family and friends. This next plane trip will be even harder because I won’t have one of my children by my side. It’s the first time since he’s been born that he won’t have moved with us and I find that I’m incredibly sad, incredibly proud, and incredibly torn about the whole decision.
And that’s it, isn’t it? We’ve raised an independent and self sufficient young man who is ready to make his own decisions even though he hasn’t reached the legal age of consent. His Dad and I aren’t ready to give him up to the world but who are we to stop him?
Kudos to all those parents who have gone before us and have bravely watched their children leave the roost, who offered support where needed but were bold enough to know when to stop holding hands, when to warmly kiss their cheeks goodbye and say “Good luck. I know you can do it.”