Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
My youngest child just got on a plane for South America.
Waaaaaahhhhhh!!! He and his girlfriend are taking a gap year between
college and grad school. They are great kids: smart, responsible, and
hard-working. All the applications are turned in, with a cover not
explaining that he’s on the road but will check email at least weekly so
he can answer any questions. But they are traveling in youth hostels
and without any predictable itinerary. So other than fitting him with an
embedded transponder (an idea I seriously googled until he made fun
or me and refused) I have no way to know what’s going on other than
the weekly updates he swears he will send, and phone calls/skypes we
have asked him to make. He’s a great guy but also sheltered and a
little too trusting in the idea that people are inherently good. Can you
help me cope with all the disaster scenarios my brain is conjuring?
Dear Worried Momma:
Anyone with a child has had all the same fears every time their kid has
walked out the door, even if they are walking to school in a clean safe
neighborhood. The bigger world is indeed a scary place, and bad
things do happen to good people. But not to all of them, and not
nearly, by a thousand thousand times over, as often or badly as your
worries will lead you to believe. Sure, he may lose some money or
even his backpack. But he knows your phone number, and short of
damage to his body, there’s very little that a transfusion of money
won’t fix. The young bounce better than we do.
You cannot protect him with worry. Instead, send him emails
encouraging to have fun, be careful, and come back with many stories
and pictures. You can send him links to safe travel tips, and ask the
girlfriend’s mother to do the same. But he is not alone, and if you’ve
been a good parent, this is the time to let him leave the nest with both
love and support.