The Thirty Minute Blogger

Exploring Books and the Writer's Life, Faith and Works, Culture and Pop Culture, Space Science and Science Fiction, Technology and Nostalgia, Parenting and Childhood, Health: Physical and Emotional ... All Under the Iron Hands of the Clock and That 30 Minute Deadline

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Parents: Letting Go

There comes a time in every parent's life when you have to start letting go of your children. You have to step back and watch them go. You practice this in little ways over the years: helping them learn to ride a bike when you run alongside them until the bike feels steady, you swallow your fear, and release your grip on the bike seat and handlebars and see what they will do; you wave goodbye with a smile you may not feel inside as they take their first school bus ride; and you drive them to birthday party overnight adventures at a friend's house to name just a few. You pray you told them the things they will need to know and prepared them for the adventures to come as best you could ... then, slowly, reluctantly, you let go.

This has been a year of letting go. Our daughter is in her early teens and in the midst of all the social adventures with friends that are to be expected but that turn a father's hair grey. I'm learning to let go ... slowly, carefully, by degrees. However, it was our 20 year old son who really made this a season of letting go. He and a friend planned a trip from southeastern Pennsylvania to Niagara Falls, Canada on high tech bikes. They got the necessary passports to be able to cross the border. They discovered a route on back roads (scenic routes) and bike trails that would get them there (amazing what you can do with Google directions). They purchased the necessary gear to carry the load. And they trained.

This was a hard one. On the one hand, all the preparation was reassuring. Knowing the races they both had participated in was useful. But, on the other hand, there was that little, parental, panicky "what if" part of the brain trying to go into overdrive. Every bad action movie scenario ran through my nervous mind involving drunks, violence, and kidnapping. All of that threatened to rise up and force me to try to insist they stay home and be safe, to give this up as foolishness (it wasn't by the way), to relax me. I had to work hard to quash that impulse, to trust in my son's capabilities and to believe his mom and I had done all we could to prepare our son for this moment.

Talking to his friend's parents (the father a biking expert) and admitting we all held the same fears was extremely helpful.

In the end, the trip was made. Over 100 miles was covered each day. God bless them for calling every night on the road with reassurances of a day safely spent (carefully tailored descriptions of the day with all the really interesting stuff removed that proves just how skilled these guys have become in parent handling). That meant a great deal to us. In four days, they reached their goal. I'm very proud of them and their accomplishment.

I wonder how much more this year will teach me about letting go.

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