Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Parenting Milestone

I remember once, back in the dark ages of high school, we had a football game in Podunk, California, or some other such small town up north. Because it was far away, several hours up the road, we had to spend the night.

I say "we" because I was a cheerleader. I'll pause here, to let that sink in for a bit.


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I know, right?

Really, have I no shame? Is there nothing I won't tell the internets? But yes: it's true. I was a cheerleader. I have pictures as proof, even, but they're probably in storage in Hagerstown or something. So no photographic evidence today.

Anyhoo. Ahem. Are you still with me? Do you think less of me now? I tell you this only so you'll understand the heart of today's story. I was, indeed, a cheerleader, and we drove all day to this little tiny town, and we stayed in a little tiny motel, and I believe some of the cheerleaders and football players managed to acquire some alcohol, and much revelry ensued until the chaperones shut it down. (Are you reading this, mom and dad? I swear I didn't participate. Anyway, it's not as if you can ground me or anything. Statute of limitations and all.)

I don't remember who won. I just remember that it seemed weird, travelling that far, just to play football. Why? Who needs to go to Podunk to play football?

I haven't given that trip much thought since. Until last Wednesday, that is, when I went to the airport and waved goodbye to my eldest son as he boarded an AIRPLANE to go play baseball. IN ANOTHER COUNTRY.

Seriously. He's not-quite-13, and he's in another country, somewhere in the middle east, without his parents, playing baseball.

To be fair, one of the chaperones is my dear friend STJ, so it's not as though we've totally abandoned him. Still and all, it's odd to think he's sort of on his own over there, without me to ask if he's brushed his teeth and did he remember to eat lunch and gross-are-those-socks-even-clean?, etc., etc.

From what I've heard, the team is doing a good job. They've won 2 games and lost one. As I type this, they are playing their final game, and tomorrow I will go to the airport to pick them up and welcome them home.

But my baby! My baby, in another country without me. When did he get so big?

Foreign Service kids do this sort of stuff all the time. They go to swim meets in Shanghai, and debate tournaments in Dubai. And then they graduate, and they go to entirely different continents for college. My own university, by contrast, was an hour or so down the road from my parents' house. Far enough to be independent; close enough to go home for dinner on a long weekend.

It's normal, then, for foreign service kids, this international tournament travel. But it's a first for me, as a parent. I'm so proud of my son, for trying out for the team, and then sticking with it even when it meant 3+ practices every week, for hours on end. And yes: I'm proud of me, too, for letting him go.

But I'm more proud of him, my growing-up son.


His first baseball game ever, with Bampa and Pop. Circa 2003.






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