I have been thinking about how we grow up. Not physically, but more in the scope of our abilities, ambitions, and our individuality. While many of us think we stop growing when we reach our twenties, and finish our education, I believe that we are always expanding. Gosh, I hope I am expanding (and not my belt size), for is we are not growing, we are dying.
My eleven-year-old was off on an adventure last week. I put her on an airplane to fly alone to visit some friends and some family in Northern California. Before she departed I was talking to her about the things she needed to be aware of traveling alone and as a house guest. At one point she said "Enough Dad. If I was not ready, you would never have allowed me to go in the first place".
She was right. We gave her this trip as a reward for completing her four year martial arts training. Any kid who could accomplish earning a black belt can fly alone on Southwest Airlines. Plus, the airlines do a good job of monitoring the kids under 12 (apparently over 12 they are left on their own, not sure I like that policy.... she may not be going anywhere else for a while), so she was never really "alone".
While she was in California I spoke to her Godfather and later her uncle, whose families she was visiting, but never directly with her. Seems she was always too busy when I called. I knew this was her way of exploring her independence, so I did not press the issue of making her come to the phone. She was showing her mother and me that she was growing up. I had to accept this, as I want her to mature.
I vividly remember being 11-years-old and spending a weekend with my older brother, who was in college. It felt so grown up to fly alone and not have mom and dad around for a few days. Thus, I respect her needing to take this milestone in her own way.
I am a shameless hovering parent, and not overseeing her in all activities was a leap for me. But I knew she was safe, and beyond that I had to just let her stretch herself to the next level.
As my kid found on her adventure, stepping out of our comfort zone and succeeding brings with it new feelings of accomplishment... all of us "grown-ups" should always be on the look out for ways to expand.
I could see the difference as soon as she got off the plane. She had a great time, but beyond that she understood that she can make it on her own....someday! In the mean time, we are glad to have our little bird back in the nest, and she is happy to be home.
How about you, what is your mini-adventure and how will it help you grow?
Have A Great Day.