He’ll Always Have Paris


Almost one year ago, Older Boy announced he wanted to participate in the school language class trip to Europe. The deal was he had to come up with a way to earn half of the $4000 price tag to get there. He spent a good portion of the summer as a street musician where he earned a surprising chunk of change. Older Boy also did pet sitting, lawn mowing, flower watering and grocery bagging to earn his cash. He saved birthday money and Christmas money. And when he counted up his stash this week – grand total earned: $2001.53. He made it.

And it’s a good thing, because today was the big day.

The buzz has been building for almost a month now. Packing, re-packing. Meetings with classmates about the trip. A few jittery moments. (One notable moment occurred when he was packing. He came out of his room and said, “I just felt like an adult and I didn’t like it.”) The teachers, who have led numerous groups on this very trip, told them when they got on the plane, they’d forget where they came from and have a great time. And from what I saw today, those teachers were exactly right.

Older Boy was up at the crack of dawn, no easy feat for a non-morning person, which was to me the ultimate measure of his excitement. His suitcase was already by the door. I was feeling like the portrait of the modern, hip parent who believes in the idea of giving your kid freedom and the growth that comes with independence.

At least until we headed to the airport.

In keeping with The Husband’s traditional guaranteed on-time airport arrival, we were the first ones there. Parents and kids trickled in. And pretty soon, the kids were scanning their passports to get the boarding passes for the first leg of their journey. A journey that for many of us started a year ago at the first informational meeting.

And then the moment came that I suddenly dreaded, the moment I had to say good-bye.

I wasn’t feeling quite so modern or hip anymore. Despite all my big talk about wanting him to be independent, there I was hugging Older Boy a little longer than I really needed to. Because I seemed to be the one having trouble letting go.

Today I took my little boy to the airport. I snapped a mental picture of him as he waved goodbye and headed for the plane with his friends, promptly forgetting about me (as it should be). And I’m glad I have that freeze-frame image in my mind. I’m guessing when his trip is over, I won’t recognize that little boy. Because I suspect I’ll be picking up an independent young man.