Growing Pains: Do Your Children Travel Alone?
Just when you think you got this parenting business under control and everything is smooth sailing, another milestone to be conquered revels itself. My son does a lot of traveling with his father since his side of the family is in another state, and he’s got a large cousin group that he’s grown up with and loves to get together with whenever her can. Back when he was much younger, his father or I would fly in with him and hang with the family and kids for a weekend, summer vacations, Disney trips and the like. Over the years, we’ve hosted the same kind of events, and in some cases, a few of his cousin’s would fly in alone and we’d pick them up them up from the airport. I always admired the bravery of kids who were fine with flying alone and, in some cases, quite excited about it. However, for some time, putting my son on a plane by himself was out of the question so as far as I was concerned, his father and I would have to eat the costs of catching a flight with him.
My position on this subject, no doubt, became a bone of contention and over the last year or so as his father has been in favor of him hopping this all but two-hour flight by himself. Thankfully, he complied…until about a month ago.
My son grew up with four cousins his age – all boys – and two of them share the same birthday, which is celebrated in Chicago every year for the last 10 years now. My son wouldn’t miss this party for the world and this year his father’s and my schedule were conflicting enough for me to consider pulling the plug on the party plans. Suddenly, I’m a villain and being completely selfish by not even considering the idea of my son flying as an unaccompanied minor. After a few days of spirited debate between his father and I, I was determined not to budge until no truer words were spoken: “he’s 11-years-old and he wants to go. He’ll be escorted by a flight attendant the entire time and they won’t just give him away to a random person! Don’t clip his wings because you’re not ready for him to fly! You have to let go a little!”
After careful reflection and recalling the several times I flew alone to see my grandparents, aunts and uncles I buckled and agreed to allow him fly alone. In the days leading up to his departure I ran through all the “stranger danger” rules we’ve enforced over time and he constantly reassured me, “Ma, I’ll be fine.” While I’m busy trying to shield him from all the ills of this cold world and not only does he want to explore it, he has to and I have to let him.
Just the other day, I sent him on his way by himself and to be completely honest, I was really making big deal out of nothing. I got the text saying he had landed less than 30 minutes after I got home from the airport and just a few minutes later the phone call from him saying he was safe and with family–and, to be honest, I’m actually enjoying the quiet time.
To my chagrin, I have to admit that I can get used to this. What I can’t get used to, however, the struggle of constantly letting go of the child who will always be “my baby.” As a parent, one would think it’s supposed to get easier with time but the truth is, it never does and we’ve only just begun.
Moms, what are your thoughts? Do you let your children travel alone already or would you allow them to?