Well, my kid made it to Arizona safely. Shockingly enough, I didn’t spend the entire vacation without him in an anxious mess. Sure, I breathed a sigh of relief when I knew his plane landed safely, but that was about it.
The few days without Stink included lots of cherished time with Pip and her dad. We all stayed up late a few times, curled up on the green couches with books akin to those fat fluffy seals sunning themselves on rocks at the pier. (I’m currently reading Anne Lamott’s Grace, Eventually and just laughing out loud. That woman is brilliant and about as neurotic as I am. Though I have better hair – and that’s not saying much.)
The day after he left, I had tea with Tuskany. While Pip and her daughter swapped books in the next room, Tuskany quipped that I had some free-range characteristics in my laissez-faire approach to parenting. I had to laugh, because in many ways, she’s not wrong. I didn’t check Stink’s luggage. (For all I know, he could have loaded up that suitcase with Twizzlers, pens and porn.)
I didn’t know who was parent chaperone was until I arrived at the airport that morning, groggy and disheveled from lack of coffee – hair resembling a greasy ballerina with bed head. (But my locks still looked better than Anne Lamott’s. The day I get dreads is the day I leave AA, my husband and join a traveling Reggae band: Mama Frazer and the Traveling Tickers, yah, Man.)
In stealing kisses from my man-child and reminding him to brush his teeth at least once on the three-day trip, I forgot to ask for his chaperone’s phone number. I reckoned to myself that if he needed to get in touch with me, he could take my advice and ask another parent chaperone or the teacher to use their phone.
I’m not sure how you, reader friend, would handle this. I do know that Tuskany would never operate in such a manner. I can attest to the fact that she is truly one of the best parents I know. She has this responsible thing down pat. (I mean, her kid eats veggies every day. EVERY DAY.) And her daughter, well, she’s a genius. Even Stink thinks so. (After Disneyland a few weeks back – which Tuskany was gracious enough to treat us to – again) he turned to me and said, “Mom, Nadia is the smartest girl I ever met. And she’s only in THIRD grade. Um… I think she’s smarter than me!” To which I responded, “She is smarter than you, kid!”)
Yup, I’m certain that this wunder girl’s mother would not only be sure that her daughter had her own phone, she would not be on a plane with a bunch of rag-tag public school kids going on an excavation in the first place! (I’d tell you the places they went, but I lost the itinerary before we even got to the airport. I had fuzzy ideas of sites containing red rocks, deserts and Indian caves with the name “Canyon” tied onto the end for the tourists – replete with gift stores and ash trays made from quartz.)
The thing is, though, I just knew Stink would be fine. He was surrounded by responsible adults. I even had cell phone #s for some of the parents who promised to send updates and snap shots. Here’s one from someone who, thank God, was kind enough to show me how much Stink was enjoying the culture on Day 1. I mean, really, could a mom be any prouder?
Turns out all went well! When he landed late on Thursday, I watched him hunker down the hallway through the security gates. The moment he saw me, he threw himself in my arms. “Mom, I’m home!” he said, eyes tired, mesh shorts a bit stained from chocolate.
I couldn’t be sure and frankly didn’t care. I was just happy to have him home. He smelled of sweat, sweets and 12-year-old tween – the most glorious odor I’d sniffed in three days.
“Did you have a good time?” I asked him, taking one of his bags from his sagging shoulder.
“Yup,” he said. “But I’m so glad to be back.”
On the car ride home, his voice cracked. “Mom,” he said, looking at the rain outside, “This night… it feels so feels holy.”
Side note: This kid is going to grow up to be a con artist or a pastor. The verdict is still out. But I digress.
“Holy, huh? How come?” I asked.
“I guess because I was nervous to fly,” he said, “But then I said a prayer to God to get home safely. And then, I just felt peace… because I figured either I’d make it home to you or to my permanent home. And either way, I’d be okay.”
Re-reading that statement just now, I burst out laughing. It’s so melodramatic. But it’s also a true statement of his heart – a heart of a boy that beats of intellect, concern and faith. Its professions like that which not only make me grateful he has a God, but grateful that I do, too. This God of mine kept me from over thinking his trip. Without Him, I’d never let Stink go.
I’m certainly not saying that people who have faith are not allowed to be protective. But for the way I’m wired, which is pretty much tighter than a drum on pots of Yuban combined with hyper monkeys if I take myself too seriously, God keeps me from having a panic attack and screaming naked after my kid’s plane on the tarmac.
Classmates: “Dude, we’re at the Grand Canyon already?”
Stink: “Nah, that’s just my mom’s butt crack.”
My cheeks in the wind are not a national landmark any sixth grader needs to witness.
With Stink gone, I held onto my own faith and my favorite acronym for fear: False Evidence Appearing Real. I reminded myself that the chance of his plane crashing to the ground was pretty far-fetched. But if we’re being honest, it was also too scary to imagine, so I just didn’t think about it. I trusted my gut, and my God, that he would be fine.
The night of his homecoming, after kissing him on the forehead, I had my own holy moment. I lit a candle, got into the bath tub and gave thanks to God. “Thank you for bringing him home… to me. ”
Until next time,
May God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you can’t change, change the tics you can, and have the wisdom to know the difference.