Today I am sharing with you my daughter’s essay that I mentioned in yesterday’s post. Last spring, she traveled to Colorado to visit relatives by herself and ran into some bumps in the road. As a parent, it can be difficult to let our children spread their wings, but allowing them to do so teaches them self reliance and independence. When my daughter finished her essay and asked me to read it, it made me realize just how important it is to allow our children the chance to make some of their own decisions, away from the watchful eye of a parent! To M: I am proud of the fact that you have confidence in yourself to take on whatever life throws your way!
I begged and begged. I badgered my parents night after night. All I wanted was a ticket to fly out to Colorado and see my cousins over spring break. That’s exactly what I got for my 13th birthday.
I went through check in and security and everything all alone…I was flying alone! This was by far the most freedom I’d ever been given. Walking through the airport, keeping my eyes peeled for my gate, I began to crave coffee. So, I got some and found my gate and sat down. I felt so grown-up, sipping my coffee, on my laptop, checking my phone, and waiting to board my plane with my boarding pass and passport in hand.
The adults around me would constantly glance. The woman at the gate wouldn’t stop smiling at me. I remember thinking, “Why are they treating me like a child, if I have freedom like an adult?” I left that thought alone….for awhile.
On the plane I wrote. I always have stories on my computer to work on, so that’s what I did. I stared at the sky a lot. I gazed at the clouds as the plane maneuvered past them. The crop circles in the Midwest mesmerized me. It was stunning, so geometrical! I couldn’t help but notice that the airport was in the middle of nowhere. I pushed the thought out of my head and gathered all my belongings as I stood up, ready to see my cousins.
When I spotted my aunt, I got a glance at my new, five month old cousin Fiona. On the drive back from the airport, my aunt apologized and complained about it being in the middle of nowhere. I didn’t think it was a burden. I found it so fascinating that there was so much empty space out west. I’ve traveled to lots of different states, and even Colorado before, but I’d never really taken in my surroundings and questioned them like this. I loved the emptiness.
During my stay I had lots of fun with my lttle cousins. They were 3 years, 2 years, and 5 months old. I saw a lot of the area where my parents went to college. I met my dad’s friend Russ who makes orthodics for people and even famous athletes like Lance Armstrong. This was his last couple months before he switched his career, so I got one of the last pairs he will make. Also, I went to a zoo where we got to feed giraffes! They have purple tongues! I had so much fun, nothing could ruin my visit.
After five days it was time for me to go home. I had school the next day so it was important my plane left on time. This was extremely unlikely because there was a huge storm in New England, and it was really rainy and windy, so lots of flights were delayed. Denver airports are extremely confusing…lots of trams and terminals. My Aunt Beth who also lives in Colorado accompanied me to my gate. We were 45 minutes early. My aunt asked the woman at the gate about my seat assignment, since my ticket neglected to give me one. They said they oversold my flight so I wouldn’t be able to board. I wasn’t alone though…along with me were two girls who wouldn’t make it back to college and a musician who would miss his show. After maybe an hour and a half of pondering our options, searching for flights, and my aunt rambling off airports I could fly into, we finally found a flight. It had been delayed for hours and hours and hours, so the woman wasn’t sure when it’d take off. If it took off in the next hour, I’d get home around 1:30-2 in the morning. Luckily the plane left in an hour.
Instead of flying to Hartford, I ended up flying into Newark. Because the flight had been delayed for so long, the plane was almost empty so I got a row of three seats to myself. I laid down, but I couldn’t sleep. It was so stormy the entire plane was rattling. When I landed, I got out of the plane and I was on my own. Everyone on my flight was trudging off to get their luggage, but not me. My luggage was in Harford without me. The airport was deserted. I felt so alone and scared. I was tired. I just wanted to lie down at a gate and sleep. I told myself to keep walking. I lugged my carry on and purse through the airport until I finally found my dad. When I got in the car I texted my aunts and then I called my mom and my grandma to tell everyone I landed safely. We drove home as I dozed off, my adventure melting into my past.
Looking back, I see it made me realize that as I grow, my independence grows. One coincides with another. When I was leaving Connecticut, I questioned the adults staring at me, but now I see they were just trying to make sense of me, fit me into a box. The thing is though, I don’t fit into a box, no one does. Everyone grows and learns at different rates. You can’t judge how far along someone is on the path of life and growing up, only they can know for themselves. Once they prove where they are, that’s when they’re granted independence. It’s experiences like these that help you see diversity among people and places that help you come to realizations that in the end, make you grow.