Parents of teenage boys spend a fair amount of time as amateur detectives. Since boys are less than forthcoming about everything a parent would like to know about their offspring. we have to look for clues. Is he sleeping enough? We’re looking for an unusual level of irritability and complete inability to get up in the morning. Is school going ok? Generally, the grunted responses to a parental inquiry on that topic don’t shed much light. We’ve learned not to even waste our time asking about social goings-on, so we keep tabs on the volume of texts and chats that blow up his phone.
When our son went to Europe for a couple of weeks with his ski team to train this month, we were like all parents of teenage boys: mostly in the dark. This trip meant missed school and risk of illness and injury. We wanted to know if it was going well. He’s taken quite a few trips like this without us, so we’ve had a little practice on how to read the social media crumbs as to how things are going. He was online 2 hours ago, so the flight must have landed. He posted a picture on Instagram yesterday (not with any people in it, but still) . . . he must be eating and sleeping. In fairness to our young progeny, he did message us on Facebook here and there, and we even got to see him on Skype once, so we weren’t completely out of the loop.
When it came time to pick him up at the airport, my husband and I were really looking forward to seeing him. We like our boy, and we miss him when he’s not around. We also know that he needs to find his way. As he gains his independence, we are learning how to let him. At every stage, from when he learned to walk, to his first day at school, to this moment at the airport, we have had to study this lesson of letting go.
We watched for him to come up from the train at Denver International Airport. He had been traveling for more than 24 hours. We knew he would be tired. We scanned each wave of people. And finally, there he was. I couldn’t help but grin at him, relieved that he was safe and in one piece. And when he looked up and saw us, a quick and full smile spread across his face. I knew then, it had been a good trip. Better than any text or phone call we could have had. It was all right there.