Dan on Independence Day
Yesterday, I had to accept that our planned trip to the Live & Learn Conference '07 was just beyond our means. I cancelled our reservations and told the boys. They were somewhat disappointed, but took the news well enough. Andy was okay, since altho he'll miss a few friends, Sorscha isn't going either, so she'll still be in town that week.
When Jenny arrived at group, she told me she had a proposal for me. She and Beth had a plan, hatched after they read a post I made at the L&L yahoo group. Would we let Dan fly to NC with Kevin, stay at the conference with Jenny's family (they already had an extra bed) and fly back home with Kevin? Wow! So, throughout the next couple of hours, I talked to Andy to see if he'd be okay with Dan going while he stayed home (he is very okay with this), to Gary to see that he was okay with it (he's very happy for Dan) and finally with Dan. Both Jenny & Beth had said they wouldn't be at all surprised if Dan said no. I was pretty sure he'd say yes, because Dan is always up for an adventure, and he'd do just about anything to spend time with Scotty.
What most touches me isn't their generous offer, or the way it's come together -- it's that all this was proposed to meet the needs of a child! As Jenny pointed out, Dan really is Scotty's rock. We all knew that upon hearing Dan wouldn't be at the L&L Scotty would insist he didn't want to go. We all grew up in a time when a child's distress at making a family trip, for any reason --much less 'just' that he'd miss his best buddy -- would not even have been considered by the adults involved. Kids were just expected to suck it up and do what their parents told them to do. That we belong to a community, a tribe, whose adults have such empathy for our children that we'd all go to these lengths for one child's emotional comfort, is more precious to me than I can say.
So, we've begun making arrangements for Dan's first solo adventure. I cannot believe my baby is big enough for this rite of passage! He's my tiny man, my sweet puddin' -- how can he be big enough to be willing to fly to the conference without his parents?! Jenny shared that Beth had wondered if it was asking too much of me. Asking a Mom to let her 6yo child be gone for a week! Thousands of miles away! I laughed and answered that I've been letting 6yo boys go away on vacation since the first time I had a 6yo boy!
Then, I realized. This really is a rite of passage for Dan. Will was 6 the first time I drove away from him at summer camp. He stayed 2 weeks that summer -- and for every summer until he was 13. The year he was 13, he flew off to spend the summer with his grandparents in Hawaii; at 14, he flew as an adult (no airline escort) to BWI (by then we lived here in New Mexico), caught a ride with friends to a month of camp, then spent a week or two with his childhood best friend's family in Northern VA. Andy took his first trip without us to Hawaii at 5 -- grandpa flew here, took Andy home with him to spend 5 wks, and grandma flew home with him. He made the same trip at 6, and another, without either grandparent -- flying unaccompanied -- at 9.
So, it must be Dan's turn to have his first adventure away from Mom & Dad. Does this mean I'm now dispensable? Is it a first step, another beginning of the end of his dependence on me, on us? I suppose really, tho it's not even a beginning for Dan -- just another step in his independence.
Dan is clearly ready - the first thing he said to Gary when we picked him up from work was "I'm going to Conference!" I'm sure I'll be ready by the time he flies away.
More importantly, tho, this whole adventure is the evidence of how very deeply our children are loved in this tribe we belong to. Three sets of parents have come together to make it possible for two boys who are the best of friends -- in many ways two halves of a whole -- to have a summer adventure together, for the simple reason that we recognize their need for each other, and that our efforts will bring joy to those two little boys we all love.